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Trash bags have been deposited at Camp Two on the world's highest peak. The site - and a whole lot of garbage - was abandoned two years ago after a series of earthquake-triggered avalanches.
As this year's climbing season in the Himalayas opens, mountaineering officials in Nepal on Wednesday presented climbers with an additional challenge alongside scaling some of the world's highest peaks: collecting trash.
In preparation for the trash-haul initiative, 10 canvas bags capable of holding 80 kilograms (176 pounds) each have already been sent up 6,400 meters (21,000 feet) to Camp Two on Mount Everest, Dambar Parajuli of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal said.
The goal is for climbers who scale from the base to higher elevations to gather garbage strewn upon Everest's summit and bring it back down to Camp Two upon their return.
Helicopters, which bring up ropes and climbing supplies during the March to May season, would then fly down the mountain with the giant trash bags.
"This way we hope to bring down the trash without any extra cost, using helicopters that return empty after dumping climbing ropes at the high camp," Tourism Department official Durga Dutta Dhakal explained to Reuters news agency.
Using helicopters also prevents Sherpa guides from having to carry heavy bags through the dangerous Khumbui icefall that lies along the descent from Camp Two to the lower south base camp.
However, veteran climber and owner of Himalayan Experience guiding company Russel Brice said he would pay Sherpas $2.00 (1.85 euros) for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of trash carried down from the mountain's higher elevations.
A high-altitude trash problem
Ever since Mount Everest and the surrounding peaks became a popular tourist trekking destinations, the problem of abandoned trash has plagued the area.
Camp Two, in particular, is littered with tents and supplies left behind after a deadly avalanche in 2015 killed at least 17 people and resulted in the camp's closure.
Many of those wishing to scale Everest and Lhotse, the world's fourth highest peak which is also accessible from Camp Two, subsequently received two-year extensions and are expected to return this spring, swelling the number of annual climbers beyond the usual hundreds.
Climbers typically pay tens of thousands of dollars for individual permits to scale the peaks. They generally arrive to lower camps in April before attempting to reach the summits in May.
cmb/sms (Reuters, AP)