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Traffic check on 'highway' peak

Darjeeling, July 17: Unesco might have sought more time to enlist Mount Everest as a world heritage site, but climbers have drawn a gloomy picture of the 'Highway' summit, if there are no efforts to preserve it.

While 18 new cultural and natural sites like Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary in China and Old Town in Regensburg, Germany, were included in the world heritage list last week, Mt Everest was given a miss.

Though some environmentalists were annoyed with the 'skip', climbers talked about the danger of unchecked human invasion on the highest peak of the world, which is threatening to its environment.

'With so many people trying to reach the top, the Everest has almost become a highway. The 'traffic' has to be controlled to protect the peak,' said Nawang Gombu, the first man to climb the Everest twice, (1963 and 65). The 1966 Padma Bhusan-recipient said the peak will be spoilt if 200 people climbed it every season. An expedition, comprising seven to eight people usually also includes around 20 Sherpas to ferries their goods.

Khusang Dorjee, who has climbed the Everest seven times and is the only Indian to climb from all the three faces, also presented a grim picture. 'When I first climbed Mt Everest in 1993, the amount of litter lying around was unimaginable. Now, though that has been taken care of, the traffic jam at the summit is unthinkable,' he said.

Though the Nepalese and Chinese government (two places from where the Everest can be summited) has enforced strict regulation on mountain garbage, Everesters said much has to be done to undo the earlier wrongs. A mountaineer has to deposit a security amount at the base camp and give a list of all the things he is taking up.

Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, son of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, however, said such regulations will not be the only solution. 'The traffic has to be controlled and this is not possible unless there is pressure on the government,' he said.

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