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Mount Everest: Death Toll Rises to Seven in a Week

The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year's spring climbing season

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mount everest, nepal
FILE - Mountaineers walk near Camp One of Mount Everest, April 29, 2018, as they prepare to ascend on the south face from Nepal. VOA

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, expedition organizers and officials said Friday, taking the toll from a deadly week on the overcrowded world’s highest peak to seven.

“Two more Indian climbers have died on Everest yesterday,” Mira Acharya, spokeswoman for Nepal’s Tourism Department, told AFP, while expedition organizers confirmed the third fatality.

Kalpana Das, 52, reached the summit but died Thursday afternoon while descending, as a huge number of climbers queued near the top of Mount Everest.

Another Indian climber, 27-year-old Nihal Bagwan, also died on his way back from the summit.

Mount Everest, Death Toll, Seven

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest. Pixabay

“He was stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted. Sherpa guides carried him down to Camp 4 but he breathed his last there,” said Keshav Paudel of Peak Promotion.

An Austrian climber died on the northern Tibet side of the mountain, his expedition organizer said.

The 65-year-old died close to the summit on his descent.

Wednesday saw an Indian and American climber die on the mountain. Last week, an Indian climber died and an Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.

Climbing is big business

Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.

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The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year’s spring climbing season, triggering bottlenecks en route to the summit after poor weather cut down the number of climbing days.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 750 climbers were expected to tread the same path to the top in the current season.

At least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to expedition operators. This could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit.

Peak season

Many Himalayan mountains, including Everest, are at peak climbing season, with the window of good weather between late April and the end of May.

Mount Everest, Death Toll, Seven
Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business . Pixabay

At seven other climbers have died on other 8,000-meter Himalayan peaks this season, while two are missing. (VOA)

Next Story

Nepal Conducts Month-Long Cleaning Campaign to Convert Mount Everest Trash into Treasure

More than 50 people have been involved in Kathmandu-based Blue Waste to Value since 2017, which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste

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nepal, mount everest, garbage trails
Workers from a recycling company load garbage collected and brought from Mount Everest, in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 5, 2019. VOA

In a bid to save Mount Everest from trash, Nepal conducted a month-long cleaning campaign by collecting over 10,000 kg of rubbish from the region.

The historical mega clean-up campaign coordinated by government and non-government agencies by mobilizing a dedicated Sherpa team from the base camp to four higher camps, not only collected waste but also removed four dead bodies from the roof of the world, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Instead of sending those solid waste to dump in the landfill site near Kathmandy, the items were segregated, processed and recycled as raw materials for various products.

“We segregated the collected materials in different categories like plastic, glass, iron, aluminium and textile. Among 10 tonness of waste received, two tonnes have been recycled while the remaining eight were soil mixed with wrappers and semi-burned items, which could not be recycled,” Nabin Bikash Maharjan, the head of Blue Waste to Value, told Xinhua.

mount everest, nepal
FILE – Mountaineers walk near Camp One of Mount Everest, April 29, 2018, as they prepare to ascend on the south face from Nepal. VOA

More than 50 people have been involved in Kathmandu-based Blue Waste to Value since 2017, which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste. Besides recycling the waste of the mountain, Maharjan’s team is also working with municipalities, hospitals, hotels and different offices to maximize value from waste by recycling, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and by creating green jobs.

To make the Everest cleanup campaign more effective, the company suggested authorities to set up an initial processing unit in the mountain area itself, so that waste can be segregated immediately and easily managed. Though the company does not recycle the materials itself, it collaborates with another firm called Moware Designs to create up-cycled glass bottle products and to sell them online.

Ujen Wangmo Lepcha from Moware Designs shared that the unique, colourful and artistic glass products are a trend recently for home, offices, restaurants and hotels. They are used as decorative items as a flower vase, candle cover, plates, travel cups, regular drinking glasses or as an accessory.

“Basically these waste products have no value in the market, so we are trying to add value and trying to reduce the waste from landfill. The products are environment-friendly and full of art,” Lepcha told Xinhua.

mount everest, nepal
Since 2008, the company has brought down seven bodies, some dating back to a British expedition in the 1970s. Pixabay

The young entrepreneur said that these products, which range from 350 Nepalese rupees to 2,000 Nepalese rupees ($3 to $18), are bacteria free as they are sterilized. The same glass items have also been a means of livelihood for many local women who shape the trash into trendy designs.

According to Nepal’s regulation, every foreigner needs to pay $11,000 as royalty while a Nepali climber has to pay $710 to scale the 8,848-meter-tall mountain.

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Besides, the government collects garbage deposits from the climbers with a provision of refund after they bring back at least 8 kg of garbage. High altitude guides claimed that piles of trash are still found in the mountain with an adverse impact on health and the environment.

The Nepal Mountaineering Association said the government should come up with a new policy to have a separate fund, which can be used to continue the cleanliness campaign to make the mountaineering industry sustainable. (IANS)