China to cut number of Everest climbers to aid clean-up

People collect rubbish at the north slope of Mount Everest Credit: Awang Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP

China will cut the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by a third this year as part of plans for a major clean-up on the world’s highest peak.

The total number of climbers attempting to reach the summit the world’s highest peak at 8,850 metres (29,035ft) from the north will be limited to less than 300 and the climbing season restricted to spring, state media reports said.

The clean-up efforts will include the recovery of the bodies of climbers who died at more than 8,000 metres (26,246ft) up the mountain.

Parts of Everest are in China and Nepal. Each year, about 60,000 climbers and guides visit the Chinese north side of the mountain, which China refers to by its Tibetan name, Mount Qomolangma.

China has set up stations to sort, recycle and break down rubbish from the mountain, which includes cans, plastic bags, stove equipment, tents and oxygen tanks.

On the Nepalese side, mountaineering expedition organisers have begun sending huge rubbish bags with climbers during the spring climbing season to collect refuse that then can be winched by helicopters back to the base camp.

Everest claims multiple victims each year, often in the “death zone” above 8,000 metres (26,246ft), where the air is too thin to sustain human life.

In 2017, 648 people reached the top of Everest, including 202 from the north side, according to the non-profit Himalayan Database.

Six people were confirmed to have died on the mountain that year, one of them on the north side.