Mount Everest Poses a Challenge in Human Waste Management

Everest is presenting a new challenge to man: how to dispose of human feces on the world's tallest mountain.

Everest is presenting a new challenge to man, according to Reuters' Gopal Sharma: how to dispose of human feces on the world's tallest mountain. 

Over 700 people frequent Everest every year to find purpose, adventure, or a little of both. While making the two-month climb, people can expel quite a bit of human waste before reaching the summit. Where does it all go? On the mountain, of course. But after years of tourists frequenting Everest, since it was conquered in 1953, there's been an unhealthy accumulation of waste.

Peel back a layer of snow near one of Everest's four base camps and you'll find a heap of human poo. Climbers typically dig holes to do their number twos, but even that's not enough after years of people squatting near the same camps and trails. The ideal to "leave no trace" in this manner isn't sustainable anymore. Nepal’s government has said that they've yet to find a permanent solution.

As a temporary Band-Aid, though, the government of Nepal has imposed a rule that states climbers must bring back at least 18 pounds of waste to base camp. When they weigh in at the end, if the number does not exceed or match it, climbers will lose their $4,000 security deposit left before their ascent. Of course, climbers aren't particularly enthused by the idea of carting around a bag of poo during their journey there and back. Some of the magic might get lost, but it's a necessary step to preserve the mountain's beauty.

It's either that or risk spreading disease on the world's highest peak. Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading expeditions up the summit since 2008, said:

“It is a health hazard and the issue needs to be addressed.”

This problem may even be beyond the king of dirty jobs, Mike Rowe.

Read more at Reuters.

Photo Credit: emifaulk/Flickr

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less