A rubbish job: collecting garbage on the roof of the world - Human & Nature - Tibetol

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A rubbish job: collecting garbage on the roof of the world
update:January 21,2019
Photo taken on Dec. 8, 2018 shows the sunset scenery of Mount Qomolangma in southwest China
Jan. 21, 2019 -- Photo taken on Dec. 8, 2018 shows the sunset scenery of Mount Qomolangma in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Zhang Rufeng)

Jan. 21, 2019 -- Trash collectors are desperately needed on Mount Qomolangma, as tons of waste is being left on the famed peak by ever-increasing numbers of visitors.

The climbing season starts at the end of March, finishing at the end of May. When the season ends, a cleanup campaign will be carried out on all areas above 5,100 meters.

Picking up garbage on Qomolangma is no easy job, and takes two to three years of training and adjustment, according to Cering Dandar, a legendary mountaineer and guide.

"This may sounds cruel, but just picking up a single ring-pull at over 7,000 meters could be a matter of life or death!" said the 32-year-old elite climber.

He once spent a whole day wriggling gingerly through the ice, just to pick up two oxygen tanks and a plastic cookie bag. Falling into one of the mountain's seemingly bottomless cracks has become his worst nightmare.


Cering's life journey has been an epic one. Leaving home at the tender age of 18, he became one of China's first Tibetan climbing guides and has climbed the highest summits of seven continents, not to mention hiking to the North and South poles -- all in less than five years.

He has a master's degree in media and communications, and was the cameraman when Beijing Olympic torch reached the top of Qomolangma in 2008. He has been to the top of Qomolangma four times.

Young Cering first noticed trash scattered along the mountain's tracks during his first ascent in 2006. "Cans, Chocolate, oxygen tanks, tents and sleeping bags. Their colors just don't belong here where everything should be white and blue."

Now the successful climber has came back to where it all started, but this time to protect the colossal mountain.

In 2018, Cering became a founding member of the Mount Qomolangma environment squad. The team has carried out major cleaning above 5,200 meters at the base camp of the northern face of the mountain three times.

This time around they have collected more than 5,000 kg of food garbage, 1,000 kg of deserted climbing equipment, and over 2,000 kg of human feces from just three privies.

Next year, they will have to do it all over again as a similar amount of domestic garbage will be produced at the the camp.

It is almost impossible to clear all the waste on the mountain. Some of it is simply unreachable, while the rest must be gathered by pickers and put into two big containers at the camp. A single expedition can take eight hours.

The collected trash must be treated 100 kilometers away, and the only road is a zigzagging track that offers little protection. It is not trucks, but yaks that are generally used to make the journey.

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