Keeping Everest Clean
Sagarmatha, or Mount Everest is the towering natural heritage that makes Nepal known in the rest of the world. This is also the symbol of national pride. Besides, the highest peak of the globe beckons climbers, adventurers, explorers and spirituality seekers from home and around the world. Being the land of Everest, and the birthplace of Lord Buddha create a unique identity for Nepal to beat any promotional phrase coined and invented. Since Tenzing Norkey and Sir Edmund Hillary set foot on the Everest peak on May 29, 1953, many adventure seekers have been putting their courage and stamina to test to scale the lofty challenge full of harsh weather, thin oxygen, icefall traps, avalanches and steep slope. Everest has stood as an iconic natural monument for Nepal visitors, adding a stimulus to tourism, one of the nation’s major sectors earning it foreign exchange. Everest opens for climbers twice in a year – in the Spring and Autumn seasons. However, greater number of climbers and trekkers probably are on Everest trails during Spring. Porters and hikers hit the trekking trails starting from Jiri of Dolakha or Lukla of Solukhumbu and at this time of the year, the routes are often congested. The mountain trails are dotted here and there with tea shops, hotels, lodges and supply stores. Brisk tourism activities increase the rate of consumption which also generates trash such as water bottles, beer bottles, food wrappers, cigarette packs and plastic bags. If we talk of the Everest Base Camp and above, climbing trails are also littered with empty oxygen cylinders, broken ladders, old ropes, tent parts and other useless climbing equipment and gears.
There are rivers, streams and other local water sources along the trails which get polluted easily if the trash is thrown unscrupulously. The Everest region is also home to rare wild animals, birds and plants. National bird Danphe (lophophorous pheasant) and endangered wild animal Red Panda are found in this region which falls under the Sagarmatha National Park. This park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the country. Business activities are high at Lukla and Namche Bazar which are considered two major gateways to Everest. Littering of trails and environmental pollution are a matter of growing concern as tourism activities continue to rise. People have even called Everest the highest trash field of the world. Careless littering and pollution will degrade the environment and sanctity of the Everest region. This should not be allowed on any pretext. Tourism should be responsible to avoid such a situation. In this regard, we have a positive news report about a recent scheme called ‘Carry Me Back’ which aims to bring the garbage littered on the Everest region back to Kathmandu. Agencies like Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, Everest Next and Blue Waste to Value are joining hands in this appreciative effort. The campaign is appropriately designed because it plans employ the litterers to collect and carry the waste up to Tribhuban Initernational Airport. One who litters must take care of his trash. This is the rule that should have been enforced by the government long ago. Now that some non-government agencies are taking this initiative gives a ray of hope and the government should extend its full support to this endeavour.