China Closes Mount Everest’s Base Camp Because Tourists Turned it Into a Dump

The Chinese government has closed down the base camp of Mount Everest and the area beyond, with officials citing the growing number of waste and garbage left by tourists as the reason.

The local government in Dingri County in Tibet posted several notices in December 2018 about the new national environmental protection law, which states, “no unit or individuals are allowed entry into the core area of the Mount Qomolangma (Tibetan name for Everest) National Nature Reserve.”

However, deputy director of China’s Qomolangma National Nature Reserve, Gesang Droma, clarified that the prohibition only applies to tourists. Mountaineering, scientific and geological disaster researchers are still allowed to enter the reserve, according to ABC News.

As for tourists, Droma explained that they can still enjoy the view of Everest from the Chinese side via the Rongbuk Monastery, which is located just below the base camp at 16,400 feet (4,998 meters).

Chinese authorities announced in January that only 300 permits are to be given each year to climbers who wish to access Everest’s summit on the Chinese side, BBC reported.

The growing garbage issue has plagued not only the Chinese side of Everest, but the Tibetan side as well, Huffington Post reported. Tibetan officials reported that more than 9 tons of garbage were collected during last year’s climbing season alone.

The cleaning effort will also try to remove the bodies of climbers who died at the dead zone while hiking Mount Everest above 8,000 meters (26,246 feet) where the air becomes too thin to sustain life.

The Chinese Mountaineering Association recorded around 40,000 visitors who came to the base camp on the Chinese side in 2015, while about 45,000 were recorded for Nepal’s base camp in 2016 to 2017, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation’s statistics.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons / Vinko Rajic (CC BY 3.0)

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