Junk on Mount Everest

Junk on Mount Everest

As if we aren’t content trashing our own planet I was staggered to read the other day that there are over 50,000 pieces of space junk in orbit around The Earth. Travelling at speeds of over 28,000 KPH this is dangerous stuff and there have been many potentially serious collisions. When I see junk out on a hike you could argue it isn’t going to kill me – except maybe give me a heart attack with bloody rage! But seriously, every piece of rubbish you leave behind on a trail has an impact on the environment and we all have to wake up to green camping and hiking.

Towering over 25,000 feet above sea level Mount Everest is not only the tallest peak in the world it's also become the world’s highest junkyard. Sadly, locals refer to Mount Everest as "Goddess Mother of the World." Over the years since Sir Edmund Hillary first reached the summit in 1953 this marvel of the natural world has been dumped on by selfish irresponsible visitors. I see this in my own backyard – by which I mean the landscapes of Australia - and I just can’t believe the damage people are causing. Sadly most of these idiots are my fellow adventurers. Wake up people – the great outdoors won’t be great for long if we turn it into a junkyard!

When I first went on mountain climbing adventures with my old man we didn’t really have any gear most people would recognise as being meant for climbing. Because of that and because I’m an old ‘tree hugger’ I always leave the mountains as I find them. Many climbers are leaving more than a trace in their quest for the ultimate physical challenge and their traces are destroying more than the view. I wouldn’t dream of chiselling out chunks of rock unless my life depencded on it but some climbers seem to think this is perfectly normal! Also if you leave litter behind it can contaminate water sources, deplete the local flora and fauna and cause untold damage to wildlife and the general environment.

The garbage strewn on the world's highest peak is not just energy bar wrappers, cans and orange peels. Mount Everest is incredibly host to abandoned tents, tent poles, fuel containers, oxygen canisters, ropes, assorted climbing gear, sleeping bags and other abandoned gear. OK I accept in an emergency you may need to leave things behind but the sheer volume of junk like this can’t all be down to such dire situations.

The Nepalese government have tried to ease problems on Mount Everest by introducing additional fees and maybe this is the route other countries should take. How about we campaign for a junk tax! Green hiking and camping is pretty basic stuff – take home with you whatever you take along. Yes it’s extra weight in your backpack on the return journey but if we all did this we’d be saving the landscapes to enjoy for the future.

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