The average Mount Everest climber leaves behind roughly 18 pounds of trash during their expedition, from energy bar wrappers to ruined tents. Nepal’s tourism authority announced that as of April 2014, everyone who goes past Everest Base Camp [18,000 feet] must bring back 18 pounds of trash (not including empty oxygen bottles or human waste) or risk losing their $4,000 deposit and possibly be banned from future ascents.
“We are not asking climbers to search and pick up trash left by someone else,” Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the mountaineering department at the Tourism Ministry, told The Associated Press. “We just want them to bring back what they took up.”
The goal of this new rule is to ensure that no new trash will be added to the heap already on the mountain. This regulation is the first the Nepalese government has enacted to combat the environmental impacts of the heavy traffic on Everest. However there have been several concentrated efforts by private groups to remove some of the trash off the mountain’s slopes, including a 2010 mission by Extreme Everest Expeditions, who brought down two tons of trash from Everest’s “death zone” above 24,000 feet.
Since Sir Edmond Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first made history on the summit of Everest in1953, there have been about 4,000 people who have followed in their footsteps. It is estimated that throughout that time 50 tons of waste has been dumped on Everest.