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  • Writer's pictureGlobal Nomad Tibet

Clean Everest

To solve the problem of pollution on Everest, Marion created the Clean Everest project with an agency affiliated with the Mountain Guide School in Lhasa. Together they brought down 10 tons of waste and created a waste management system.

The initial observation by Marion

Having taken the pulse of the Mother Mountain, the goddess Jomolangma, I note that nature is under pressure and the diagnosis alarming: thirty years of commercial expeditions have left behind them more than ten tons of waste on the northeast ridge of the Tibetan slope, polluting not only the site itself but also, and this is even more serious, the spring water that flows from the massif.

In response to this frightening situation, Marion forms a partnership with an agency affiliated with the Mountain Guide School in Lhasa to start a major cleanup of Everest.

The elaboration of an environmental charter

The first step of the Clean Everest project is the drafting of an "Environmental Charter for the protection of the mountain", written in Tibetan language by and for the Lhasa Guide Company. It will then be translated for the foreign mountaineers who, paying a lot of money for their expedition, do not think of cleaning the mountain after their passage. They believe that it is not their responsibility to do so.

Difficult start

With the Tibetan guides of Tibet Yarlha Shampo, Marion launches the first expedition to clean the Northern face of Mount Everest. They start by clearing the slopes of the garbage accumulated during the previous decades. That first year, they only managed to collect one ton out of the ten. This waste collected with great difficulty cannot be brought down by the yaks: the caravans have not arrived as planned, everything is blocked. Marion and the group of fifty Tibetan guides are discouraged. They feel alone.

Turn of events

The following year, in 2017, the local authorities send fifty yaks, adorned with beautiful red tassels hanging from their ears. This time they arrive on time. The team clear 4.5 tons. A compressor is installed at the Rongbuk dump. The yaks transport the bags to the base camp. Rounds of trucks ensure the regular evacuation, each week, of the bags of waste from the base camp, towards Rongbuk. Up to 6500 meters, the mountaineers voluntarily collect the waste on the most polluted camps. Fifty Tibetan guides, along with Nepalese Sherpas, work to clean the six camps along the summit route, especially in the highest altitude camps where they are the only ones to make regular return trips.

The success of Clean Everest

In four years, thanks to the Clean Everest expeditions, almost all of the ten tons of waste accumulated during past expeditions has been brought down in bags and on the backs of yaks. The mountain has regained its purity.

The populations of the mountains are today sensitised and the local authorities support the projrect. A waste management system has been set up. They are committed to replicating this model, particularly for other 8,000-meter peaks.

Replicating the project on a global scale

Marion is now a member of the Mountain Synergies association, which aims to help public and private actors around the world to create 100% responsible high mountain expeditions. For more information:

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