Everest Climbers To Take New Route To The Summit In 2015; Mt. Everest Has A ‘Poop’ Problem

Everest Climbers To Take New Route To The Summit In 2015; Mt. Everest Has A ‘Poop’ Problem

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As I watch the snow come down; my mind wandered to Mt. Everest, as the 2015 climbing season is upon us; and, officially begins this week, as the mountaineers begin their two month stretch to the summit in early May, Barney Henderson, writing in the February 18, 2015 edition of London’s The Daily Telegraph, writes that “Nepal officials have changed the route up Everest for this year’s climbing season, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadly avalanche which killed 19 Sherpas. The ‘new’ route, Mr. Henderson writes, “which was last used in the early 1990s, avoids the left-hand side of the treacherous, Khumbu icefall…also known as the West Shoulder.”

This year, “mountaineers will climb up the center of the icefall after leaving base camp. The new route is longer, and tougher [more physically demanding] ; but, carries less risk of an avalanche,” according to Nepalese authorities. Not everyone agrees. “Last year, 19 Sherpas were killed in an avalanche on the icefall, which was the worst single loss of life in expedition history,” The Telegraph noted. “The tragedy, which was caused by a huge block of ice breaking off from a hanging piece of glacier, led to an unprecedented shutdown of of the world’s highest peak [29,029ft], as the Sherpa community demanded better pay and working conditions.”

Tashi Sherpa, who has scaled the world’s highest peak eight times, said, “the new route was less risky because there were no ice cliffs, or hanging glaciers above it,” “These can break off suddenly, particularly as the weather warms in the spring…triggering rockfalls and avalanches,” Mr. Henderson writes. “With nicknames such as “the Ballroom of Death, and “Popcorn Field,” the Khumbu icefall is one of the most lethal sections of the most common South Col route to Everest’s summit.”

Mr. Henderson notes that “more than 300 people have died [50 of them on or around the icefall] on Everest since the first summit by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, while some 4,000 climbers have successfully reached the summit and lived to tell about it. John Krakauer who wrote the award-winning Into Thin Air,” about the 1996 disaster, said, “each trip through the icefall is like playing a round of Russian roulette.” If you have read ‘Into Thin Air,” it is a riveting, page-turning read, about the 1996 climb that resulted in the deaths of 8 climbers, including famed mountaineers Rob Hall and Scott Fischer…both of whom were experienced mountaineers and both had previously made it to the top of the world more than once.

Mt. Everest Has A Poop Problem

According to a March 3, 2015 article by The Associated Press, “waste from 700 climbers and guides a year, who attempt to scale the mountain is becoming a health hazard. Human waste, left by the climbers on Mount Everest, has become a problem that is causing pollution; and, threatening to spread disease, on the world’s highest peak,” the Chief of Nepal’s Mountaineering Association said Tuesday. “The more than 700 climbers and guides who spend nearly two months on Everest’s slopes each climbing season, leave large amounts of feces and urine, and the issue has not been addressed Ang Tshering told reporters. He said Nepal’s government needs to get the climbers to dispose of the waste properly…so the mountain remains pristine.”

According to a March 4, 2015 article on the website Vox, “it is now estimated that they leave behind up to 26,500 pounds of excrement annually — and, it’s getting to the point where the pits of poop and urine surrounding the four main base camps — are becoming serious environmental health problems.”

In addition Vox noted, there are an estimated 200 frozen corpses on Everest — the bodies of the unfortunate souls, who perished en route [or on the descent], and couldn’t be carried back down by their their teammates — especially if they died in the “death zone,” which is 26K feet or above — where the oxygen level is insufficient to sustain human life.” There is an estimated 10 tons of garbage which has accumulated on the mountain in the past six decades, since the Hillary/Norgay 1953 expedition. V/R, RCP

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