Mounting piles of human poop are kicking up a stink on Mountain Everest, much to the annoyance of local authorities who are now instructing climbers they must bring their dirty business back to base camp.
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee estimates that literally tons of human excrement have been dumped between Camp One and Camp Four of Mount Everest. Due to the extreme conditions of the high-altitude mountain, much of this waste doesn’t fully degrade and can persist for years.
To combat the problem, Pasang Lhamu rural municipality – the local authority that looks after much of the Everest region – is ordering climbers to buy special poo bags at base camp, which will be “checked upon their return”, according to BBC News.
The bags will contain chemicals that help to solidify the human excrement and reduce its odor.
“Our mountains have begun to stink,” Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, told the BBC.
“We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image,” said Mingma.
Everest’s poop problem has been raised before. In 2022, Nepal announced it needed to relocate the Everest base camp because climate change and human activity were making it unsafe.
Along with warming temperatures destabilizing the icy area, local groups were becoming concerned by the amount of trash, urine, and human excrement that was being littered at the camp. That’s not evening mentioning the long-lost human corpses that are emerging out of the melting ice.
The camp’s relocation was eventually scrapped, but the impact of human activity has continued to grow.
All of these issues are being fuelled by the sheer amount of people who are attempting to scale Everest’s summit nowadays. Expeditions have become increasingly accessible and popular over the past two decades, causing the mountain to become dangerously overcrowded with traffic jams of climbers.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to conquer Mount Everest in 1953. Just seven decades on, over 6,664 different people have scaled its summit – and this once-pristine environment is starting to feel the strain.