Waste on Everest

Sanna Raistakka and Roeland Van Oss left plenty of boot prints on the slopes of Everest this year, but one thing they didn’t leave behind was their waste.

In their latest blog post they explained how they went about their climb in the cleanest of ways possible.

“This is a slightly different kind of post about our Everest Experience. It’s about the waste and rubbish on the mountain.

“There were about 1000 people in BC so you can imagine the amount of waste that got created during the season. In BC each camp had barrel toilets, which got carried away when full and emptied in a designated place away from water sources. A similar system was applied in C2 where people spent the second most time on the mountain.

“But what about the other camps? It all got left in the snow and therefore potentially contaminating the water source in time.

“Appalled at what we saw on Manaslu a couple of years ago and inspired by how things are done in Denali, Alaska where Roeland had seen the clever system they use, we decided to look into how we could also bring our own waste down on Everest and not add to the pollution.

“We came up with a biodegradable bag system, which allowed us to bring back 99% of our personal waste down and therefore leaving nothing, but a boot print behind as we’d prefer to do.

“It sounds a bit gross, to poo in a bag and then carry it down, but everything froze so it’s really not that bad as long as you bring it down when the temperatures are still cold 🙂. When we tested it and used it, it worked well and any waste we brought down was deposited in the barrels in BC , which got taken away at a later date. At least it was not left on the mountain.

“Rubbish was a similar issue here, which you saw strewn on the side of the route. There were empty coke bottles, sweet wrappers, cigarettes, cookie wrappers, and the list goes on. However, there was also a mountain cleaning campaign going on so the locals who came down the mountain with extra rubbish got financial compensation for it. On later rotation, there was far less rubbish around anymore.

“As for expeditions, they pay a rubbish deposit in advance, which they get back if a certain amount of rubbish is returned in the end. Roeland came up with a great, secondary use for our boots: rubbish collection storage. The top of the boot was quite wide so as you were walking downhill it was easy to pick up the annoying wrapper or two and shove it in your boot until you could empty it in BC. It didn’t take too much of your time or energy to do and at the same time, you left a nicer, cleaner environment behind for everyone to enjoy.”