Kathmandu, May 24 (Reuters): A Japanese-led climbing team has cleared 2.4 tonnes of rubbish from Mount Everest, removing most of the decades-old trash days before the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain.
Japan's Ken Noguchi, who launched the clean-up drive this month, said his 30-member team of Japanese, Korean and Nepali climbers had collected 51 oxygen cylinders, food cans, tents, gas tanks, plastic and ropes from various camps en route to the peak.
“We will take some of the garbage for public display in Japan and Korea,” Noguchi said today, a day after he flew in a helicopter from the mountain with sacks full of rubbish.
Some of it will be left behind in Nepal to be displayed in Kathmandu and the tourist town of Pokhara, 200 km west of the capital. “The public display of the garbage is aimed at raising awareness for keeping the mountain clean,” said Noguchi, who scaled the peak in 1999 and has led clean-up expeditions in the past.
“There are no more oxygen bottles and South Col is now clean,” he said, referring to a camp where climbers begin their final ascent to the 8,850 metre summit.
New Zealand beekeeper Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa became the first people to climb Everest on May 29, 1953. More than 1,200 people have since followed in their footsteps. A total of 175 people have died on its slopes and many corpses are still lying on the mountain.
Noguchi’s team also picked up an unidentified body on the slopes of Everest, brought it down and buried it in a crevasse, the Japanese mountaineer said.
Several teams have cleared more than 10 tonnes of rubbish since the mid-1990s after complaints from climbers that Everest had turned into the world’s highest garbage dump.
Some old tents, still covered by snow in some places, were left behind, he said.
Hillary, 83, will be the guest of honour in a series of celebrations to mark the first ascent of Everest starting next week. Tenzing, who lived in Darjeeling in neighbouring India, died in 1986.