Every spring when climbing conditions are more favorable, hundreds of people make the trek up Mount Everest alongside porters and guides in hopes of conquering the world’s highest mountain. Popularity has increased over the years, resulting in a large quantity of trash scattered along the hiking route. A recent cleanup effort by the Nepal government sought to remove some of this waste.
The cleanup expedition has wrapped up and the official numbers are in. According to the Nepal Tourism Department, multiple weeks were spent gathering trash that had been abandoned in the inhospitable conditions, including food wrappers and cans, as well as expedition gear like oxygen cylinders.
Overall, the team removed around 24,200 pounds of trash, as well as four dead bodies, from the mountain. The bodies, according to Nepal officials, had been made visible by melting snow; other trash and possibly other bodies may remain hidden under snow and ice, and may only become visible when additional melting occurs.
The Associated Press reports that most of the trash was gathered from the mountain’s Camp 2 and Camp 3, both of which are destinations where climbers can stop to rest after leaving the base camp. It’s unclear whether the government plans additional future trips during the mountain’s ‘warmer’ season to gather trash revealed by melting snow.
When possible, the gathered trash will be recycled. The bodies, meanwhile, have been sent to a hospital to be identified. Thus far, there are no official estimates for how much garbage exists on Mount Everest, though it’s expect that a substantial amount of trash remains.