Every year, hundreds of people from all around the world flock to Mt. Everest in Nepal. Their goal? The climb the world’s tallest mountain so that whatever happens to people who climb mountains will happen to them. Sometimes that means dying. Sometimes it means smugly telling others you climbed Everest. 100% of the time it also means pooping.
In recent years we’ve heard of the problem of garbage piling up on Everest, old oxygen tanks and Power Sauce bar wrappers from climbers who just toss crap when they’re done with it, and the more morbid amongst us are probably aware that the peak is also scattered with corpses because if you die up there you better believe no one is going to chip your corpse out of the ice and bring it down again – you just became a landmark. Everyone climb up to the dead dude in the Reeboks then take a left.
Now it turns out there’s an additional problem on Everest and it’s poop. Mountains of climber poop that, like everything else, just stays there. The problem is, relatively speaking, there’s more poop than anything else now because a single climber is going to leave a few deposits in their time there.
One base camp at Everest is equipped with crap tents that crate up the waste and ship it away, but anywhere else, and especially on the peak itself, when nature calls you just call back and leave a present in the snow. Some responsible climbers have taken to bringing small, portable toilets with them but for a lot of climbers who need to face the reality that this mountain has killed people and will kill again, if you have to choose between packing your own crap or something that may save your life, you’re leaving the crap on the mountain.
Unfortunately for new climbers and Sherpas, this poop problem is getting out of hand. Even when frozen, vast acres of dookie can only be so safe to constantly be walking through, not to mention all the yellow snow. The next avalanche could kill people with e.coli instead of just snow and rock.
If you’re wondering how to understand this problem, consider that every year about 700 people climb Everest. 700 poops a day from people who spend about two months on and around Everest to prepare for the climb is about 42,000 poops. Per year. Over the last, how long has climbing Everest been really popular? Twenty years? That’s 840,000 turds on ice in Nepal. Sure, a number of them will have been disposed of at the biggest base camp, but bet your freezing ass the mountain itself has well over a quarter of a million turds on it.
In an effort to combat the fact everyone treats Everest like the bathroom at a rundown strip club, officials are now requiring all climbers to return with at least 18lbs of waste. That can be poop or oxygen tanks or maybe that guy with the Reeboks, but it’s generally considered to be the amount of waste every climber leaves on the mountain, which is pretty substantial. Before going up the mountain, a $4000 deposit has to be left and if you and your crew don’t comply with the trash regulation, you don’t get that money back.
With any luck, one day the entire mountain will be as pristine as it was when it was formed, except for the peak, where in 1953 Edmund Hilary arguably earned the right to leave on turd on top as a testament to his accomplishment climbing the mountain before anyone else.