Mount Everest Climbers Are Now Required to Haul Nearly 20 Pounds of Garbage Off the Mountain

The new rule is meant to help tackle the estimated 50 tons of garbage currently sitting on the mountain

Photo: Brigitte Djajasasmita

As of this April, any climber ascending beyond base camp on the Nepali side of Mount Everest will be coming away from the mountain with more than just photos and frostbite. According to new rules set by the Nepali government, visiting mountaineers will now be required to bring at least 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of garbage down with them, reports the Khaleej Times. This garbage, officials said, is in addition to any trash climbers produce during their stay on the mountain. Those who do not comply will face a fine or other legal penalties, says the Khaleej Times.

Here's the New York Times on the new rule

The rule is the government’s first concerted effort to eliminate an estimated 50 tons of trash that has been left on Mount Everest by climbers over the past six decades. The waste includes empty oxygen bottles, torn tents, discarded food containers and the bodies of climbers who died on the mountain....

Hundreds of climbers ascend Mount Everest annually. Most are led by guides and have little experience, so they discard trash along the way to save the energy they need to reach the summit or return to base camp alive. Their trash continues to increase, so much so that some climbers have termed Mount Everest the world’s highest garbage dump.

In the past, volunteer organizations have undertaken several significant clean up efforts. According to the Week, the Eco Everest Expedition has picked up around 13 tons of garbage since 2008, while an Indian-Nepali team collected around 4.4 tons last year. Nepali artists, too, have participated in the trash-collecting efforts, bringing down around 1.5 tons that they used in their work. But due to the sheer number of climbers—an estimated 3,500 to date, according to the Week—these volunteer efforts alone are not enough to rid the mountain of all that waste. Nepal is hoping that the new rules brings another eight tons of garbage down off the mountain during this spring's climbing season, the Times ​reports.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.