Everybody poops, and it’s gotta go somewhere, but to the frustration of Nepalese mountaineering officials who oversee Mount Everest, that “somewhere” isn’t usually into a bag to be disposed of later, but rather, any damn place or in a hole in the snow. Because oxygen deprivation turns climbers into dogs who think that if they bury something, it is magically gone forever.
Human waste left by climbers on Mount Everest has become a problem that is causing pollution and threatening to spread disease on the world’s highest peak, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association said Tuesday.
The more than 700 climbers and guides who spend nearly two months on Everest’s slopes each climbing season leave large amounts of feces and urine, and the issue has not been addressed, Ang Tshering told reporters. He said Nepal’s government needs to get the climbers to dispose of the waste properly so the mountain remains pristine.
I know that in your head right now, you’re trying to multiply two months by one bowel movement a day and 700 people, but let me help you out: The number is 26,500 pounds of human waste left on Everest each year. That number comes from Grinnell College in an article about alumnus Nate Janega’s effort to create a biogas digester that would turn the waste into methane gas. The trouble is it’s too damn cold for the digester to function.
The solution in the meantime? A mixture of Sherpas trucking down bags of sh*t to keep the mountain clean and free of disease, and this effort by officials to alert the media and collectively shame climbers who don’t gather their own excrement in little bags.
While Everest’s poop problem is sure to persist, the issue of general littering is being hit hard.
The government imposed new rules last year requiring each climber to bring down to the base camp 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of trash — the amount it estimates a climber discards along the route.
Climbing teams must leave a $4,000 deposit that they lose if they don’t comply with the regulations, Katuwal said. [Via]
Why officials can’t eyeball a climber and put a number on the weight of their expected poop before they ascend is beyond me, but until another solution is developed, I say that Sherpas get to throw crap at any climber who comes down the mountain without poop filled bags.