UK
03/03/2015 11:06 GMT | Updated 04/03/2015 13:59 GMT

Human Poo Left On Mount Everest Is Causing Pollution

A surplus of human poo on Mount Everest is causing pollution and threatening to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.

More than 700 climbers and guides spend nearly two months on Everest's slopes each climbing season.

And that translates into a whole lot of poo.

mount everest

A mountain of poo is gathering on Mount Everest

Ang Tshering, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association is urging the government to address the situation.

"Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there," Tshering said, adding that the waste has been "piling up" for years.

Hundreds of foreign climbers attempt to scale Everest during Nepal's mountaineering season, which began this week and runs through May. Last year's season was canceled after 16 local guides were killed in an avalanche in April.

Climbers spend weeks acclimatizing around the four camps set up between the base camp at 5,300 meters (17,380 feet) and the 8,850-meter-high (29,035-foot-high) summit. The camps have tents and some essential equipment and supplies, but do not have toilets.

At the base camp, where there are more porters, cooks and support staff during the climbing season, there are toilet tents with drums to store the waste. Once filled, the drums are carried to a lower area, where the waste is properly disposed.

Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading Everest cleanup expeditions since 2008, said some climbers carry disposable travel toilet bags to use in the higher camps.

"It is a health hazard and the issue needs to be addressed," he said.

Nepal's government has not come up with a plan yet to tackle the issue of human waste. But starting this season, officials stationed at the base camp will strictly monitor waste on the mountain, said Puspa Raj Katuwal, the head of the government's Mountaineering Department.

The government imposed new rules last year requiring each climber to bring down to the base camp 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of rubbish - 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.

More than 4,000 climbers have scaled Mount Everest since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay.

More than 200 have died in the attempt, while many have succeeded only with help from oxygen tanks, equipment porters and Sherpa guides.

Mount Everest