Mount Everest climbers might find themselves in a world of rubbish, as Nepali officials are now mandating that those who trek the hallowed peak need to bring back at least 18 pounds of trash with them on the way down or face a ban from the mountain, according to a report today from the Associated Press.
According to the report, Nepal is creating the initiative in order to help maintain and clean up the worlds most recognized mountain, which has become littered with garbage after years of climbers leaving junk en route for the summit.
“We are not asking climbers to search and pick up trash left by someone else,” said Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the mountaineering department at the Tourism Ministry. “We just want them to bring back what they took up.”
Officials will check climbers at the Everest base camp to ensure they descend with roughly 8 kilograms of trash (18 pounds), which the government estimates is how much an average person junks during the trek.
This is all with the goal in mind to physically change the moniker the mountain has received –– “The World’s Highest Garbage Dump” –– by removing some 8 tons of trash –– discarded food, tattered tents, empty oxygen bottles, etc. –– each year, according to the New York Times.
With Nepali authorities left grasping at control over the mountain, most of the clearing of trash is done by private trekking companies, according to the report, when the can actually reach said garbage.
"There is no way to say how much garbage is still left on Everest," said Dawa Steven Sherpa, a guide for Eco Everest Expeditions since 2008. "It is impossible to say what is under the ice."
Roughly 230,000 tourists flock to the Himalayas yearly, with 810 attempting to climb Everest.
The Nepali government estimates that $3.3 million is earned in climbing fees alone for Everest, the cornerstone of tourism in the country.
If the trash collecting climber initiative should work, according to the report, the Tourism Ministry said they’ll be utilizing the project on other climbing routes.