KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Mountaineering expedition organizers in Nepal are sending huge trash bags with climbers on Mount Everest during the spring climbing season to collect trash that then can be winched by helicopters back to the base camp.
Dambar Parajuli of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal said Wednesday that bags have already been sent to the base camp to be carried by climbers, guides and porters to higher elevations.
Each bag can hold up to 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of trash and can be hooked to helicopters at Camp 2 to be flown back to the base camp. The helicopters after dropping off supplies and equipment at the camp located at 6,400 meters (21,000 feet) generally fly back empty.
Hundreds of climbers and their guides are expected to attempt to scale the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak during the spring season. Climbers generally arrive in April and attempt to reach the summit in May when weather conditions are favorable. They leave behind a lot of garbage.
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Climbers also say it is urgent to remove the trash left by previous expeditions at Camp 2, which was set up in 2014 and 2015 when tragedies forced an early end to the climbs. The 2014 season was canceled after 16 Nepalese guides were killed in an avalanche, and the following year an earthquake-triggered avalanche swept the base camp killing 19 people.
Veteran guide Russell Brice said the tents and supplies that were left behind have to be removed.
Doing it by helicopter means Sherpa guides do not have to risk carrying heavy loads of trash through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall to the base camp.
Brice, one of the leading expedition organizers, said that for trash left higher up the mountain he was offering Sherpa guides carrying equipment up the mountain for their clients to bring back bags filled with trash to Camp 2. They would be paid $2 per 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), and would use bags that can hold 5 kilograms (11 pounds).