Wednesday, July 2, 2008
In 2007 some 40,000 people visited Mount Everest's Chinese northern side. And although this is significantly less than the number of folks who ascended on the Nepali side - they still managed to leave behind quite a mess...120 tonnes of mess to be exact. Now China is planning to restrict access to the summit to climbers to allow for a grand scheme clean up by several of their environmental teams.
The clean up is expected to find discarded oxygen tanks, rucksacks, bottles, tins and other common trash in addition to the occasional corpse (there are estimated to be about 120 corpses still buried in the are). While this noble sounding endeavor sounds like good clean thinking, the Tibetan government remains skeptical, as earlier this year Beijing paved a road to Base Camp against the wishes of international conservationists and Tibetan independence activists who said it was the latest effort to dilute Tibetan culture in the region.
Jin Canrong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at Beijing's Renmin University denied that, saying: "The cleaning work to Mount Everest is for environmental protection. But some Tibetan independence elements have given a political interpretation for acts of environmental protection."
Environmentalists say most of the rubbish that has accumulated on Everest is cosmetic and not a major problem, though the fact that climbers tear up the local shrub juniper to make fires is worrying because it can lead to soil erosion. As usual Tibet and China remain on opposite ends of the issue.
In the 55 years since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the 29,035 ft of Everest, thousands of climbers have visited the area, providing a significant source of income to both countries. But the routes have become hopelessly overcrowded, with every group of climbers leaving its own unmistakable footprint on the mountain...and vestiges of trash along the way.