April 6, 2009

Sherpa Leads Clean-Up Crew To Top Of Mount Everest

A 49 year-old Sherpa is planning to conquer Mount Everest for a record-setting time in order to promote environmental protection, the AFP reported.

Apa Sherpa will make his 19th voyage to the top of Everest in order to protest the damage inflicted on the world's highest mountain by both climate change and waste left behind from other climbers.

Apa said that while climate change is affecting the Himalayas, trash left by climbers has become a concern as well.  On his way down from the mountain he plans to bring down as much trash as he can carry.

He also added that he was not climbing Everest again for his own recognition or to beat his own record.

"My objective is to highlight the environmental degradation of the mountain and draw attention to the issue of global warming," Apa told AFP.

Discarded equipment, food containers, human excrement and even the corpses of misfortunate climbers have littered the slopes of Everest after decades of expeditions up the mountain.

Additionally, global warming has lead to the steady break-up of the Khumbu icefall, a treacherous maze of cliffs and crevasses on the southern side of the peak.

Since first climbing Everest in 1990, Apa said he has experienced less snow on the mountain each time he has reached the summit.

"The beauty of Everest is deteriorating as climbers leave their garbage on the mountain. We must discourage such practices," he said. "For us Sherpas, Everest is not just the mountain. Everest is our god. I want to see Everest clean and safe."

Apa will lead a 40-member Eco Everest expedition from Kathmandu on Monday; the team will be devoted to picking up waste along the mountain.

Apa said bad things are happening on Everest not only because of global warming but also because "we are treating our god badly."

Tourism has also contributed heavily to Everest's problems.

"Due to heavy commercialization of Everest, the sacred spiritual aspect of the mountain is fading away and this has become very worrying for the mountain people," he said.

Indigenous Sherpas like Apa work as support climbers for foreign expeditions and are essential to the climbing business.

During the climbing season they put out miles of ropes and fix ladders across crevasses on the route to the top to the summit.

While Apa has successfully scaled the summit 19 times, he warned that every attempt on Everest was fraught with danger.

"You never know when the weather turns bad there but the mountain needs care and the risk I am taking is worth it," he said.

In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first climbed Mount Everest's 29,028-foot peak.


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