Environmental Concerns on Nepal’s Mount Everest Impose New Rules

Mount Everest
Mount Everest | Via Pexels/Nanda Ram Gharti
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Written by Binayak Karki

The issue has prompted calls for action from expedition leaders and experts, emphasizing the urgent need to address this environmental challenge.

Mount Everest faces a significant feces problem, with climbers leaving behind up to 26,500 pounds of excrement annually.

The accumulation of human waste around the mountain camps poses serious environmental and health hazards. Without an efficient waste management system, climbers have been disposing of feces wherever convenient, leading to contamination of the environment.

The issue has prompted calls for action from expedition leaders and experts, emphasizing the urgent need to address this environmental challenge.

Mt Everest waste 03 | eTurboNews | eTN
Photo: David Liaño

In a bid to address the longstanding issue of human waste on Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse, the local municipality of Pasang Lhamu has announced a new regulation requiring climbers to purchase and utilize poo bags at base camp.

The implementation of this rule, set to be enforced during the upcoming climbing season, aims to combat the environmental degradation caused by overcrowding in the mountains.

Khumbu Pasanglhamu is one of 7 rural municipalities in Solukhumbu district of Province No. 1 of Nepal. Solukhumbu is home to the world’s tallest mountain Mt. Everest.

Good houses are near the Kharikhola. panoramio | eTurboNews | eTN
Houses in Pasanga Lhamu Rural Municipality

Growing Concern Over Environmental Impact on Mount Everest

The decision comes amidst growing concerns over the environmental impact of increasing numbers of climbers on the world’s highest peaks.

With the issuance of more climbing permits each year, experts warn of the detrimental effects of overcrowding on the fragile ecosystem of the Everest region.

Human excreta has become a particularly pressing issue, prompting authorities to take action.

Successful Precedents and Welcomed Initiatives

Similar initiatives have proven successful on other mountains, such as Mount Denali in Alaska, garnering positive feedback from expedition operators. The introduction of poo bags has been welcomed as a step in the right direction by those involved in Everest expeditions.


Namche 26663229686 1 | eTurboNews | eTN
Namche Bazar – The Gateway to Everest | Chris Brown from Melbourne, Australia

Implementation and Regulation Details

The new regulation is set to be introduced ahead of the climbing season in Nepal, commencing in March and lasting until May. Mingma Sherpa, chairman of the Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, emphasized the necessity of addressing the visible presence of human waste in the mountains, stating, “This is not acceptable and erodes our image.”

Environmental Impact and Concerns

According to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, an estimated three tonnes of human waste are scattered between Everest’s base camp and Camp Four, with a significant portion concentrated at South Col (camp four). The inability to effectively manage waste disposal at higher altitudes poses a significant challenge.

Record-breaking Climbing Permits and Ongoing Challenges

The issue of overcrowding persists, with Nepal having granted a record-breaking 478 climbing permits for Mount Everest last year. The influx of climbers, guides, and support personnel exacerbates the environmental strain on the region, highlighting the need for sustainable solutions.

Procurement of Poo Bags and Future Outlook

Efforts are underway to procure approximately 8,000 poo bags from the US, which will be distributed among climbers, sherpas, and support staff. Equipped with chemicals to solidify waste and reduce odor, these bags are designed for multiple uses. However, concerns linger regarding properly disposing of used bags, with some apprehensive about potential environmental repercussions.

Mixed Reactions and Optimism

While some express skepticism about climbers’ adherence to proper waste management practices, others remain optimistic about the initiative’s potential impact. Dambar Parajuli, president of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal, expressed support for the regulation, emphasizing the collective responsibility to ensure its success.

As Nepal prepares for another climbing season, implementing this new regulation marks a significant step towards mitigating the environmental challenges posed by mountaineering activities in the Everest region.

About the author

Avatar of Binayak Karki

Binayak Karki

Binayak - based in Kathmandu - is an editor and author writing for eTurboNews.

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