Kathmandu (Reuters) – A renowned U.S. mountain guide, who recently achieved the rare feat of climbing Mount Everest and two nearby peaks in less than three weeks, said on Tuesday Nepal needs to do a better job of policing the world’s highest mountain to save it from garbage.
Garrett Madison, 44, who climbed the 8,849 metre (29,032 feet) Everest for the 13th time last week, said its higher camps were littered with torn tents, food wrappers and empty oxygen bottles discarded by climbers.
“We need to find better ways to bring the waste down,” Madison said in the Nepali capital Kathmandu after returning from the mountain.
“We need better policing to check that every team brings down its garbage.”
It is mandatory for climbers to bring their waste down from the mountain and claim back a garbage deposit of $4,000 from the government.
But expedition organisers and hiking officials say monitoring camps nearly 8,000 metres (26,246 feet) high was both difficult and ineffective.
Authorities collected 13 tonnes of rubbish from Everest and the nearby Lhotse peak this year as part of a campaign to keep the mountains clean.
Despite his worries about the trash, Madison, who owns a Seattle-based mountaineering company, said climbing in Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, had a bright future.
“I think Nepal is the Switzerland of Asia in its potential to develop mountaineering,” he said, adding that the country had better emergency helicopter services for climbers than Pakistan and the Tibet region, where the six other highest peaks are located.
This month, as well as Everest, Madison climbed Lhotse, the world’s fourth tallest peak at 8,516 metres (27,939 feet), and the Nuptse peak, at 7,855 metres (25,770 feet), completing the rare “triple crown” of climbing all three in one season.
Mountain climbing generates big income for Nepal, which issued a record 478 permits for Everest this March to May season, each costing $11,000.
While hundreds of people climbed the mountain this season, 12 of them died and five were missing on its slopes.