Is there no end to depressing news about humanity? Even the outdoor adventurers among us, it appears, are not reliable respecters of nature.
The latest alarm comes from the Nepalese government and several mountaineering associations decrying the buildup of garbage on Mount Everest. The world's loftiest peak is strewn with an estimated 50 tons of junk, they report, most conspicuously thousands of oxygen cylinders discarded by climbers.And Everest is only one of 110 peaks in the Himalayas on which climbing is permitted. On these, an average of 100 teams a year try their luck, each accompanied by 40 or so porters carrying food and gear. It's a rare climbing team that brings its own refuse down.
The Nepal Mountaineering Association is raising funds for two cleanup expeditions to Everest, but scores of trips would be needed to remove the trash from the whole range. That will be a truly Sisyphean task unless climbers adopt responsible habits starting now.