Jewish World Review June 16, 2003 / 16 Sivan, 5763
Because it's there
Sir Edmund Hillary, who first scaled Mount Everest fifty years ago, has
joined other veteran climbers to suggest that the big rock might need a
According to the Associated Press, so many people are crowding the
mountain that there are frequently "traffic jams on the fixed ropes and
ladders that cross the icy ridges." Also, "Mount Everest is littered
with tents, plastic wrappings, food cans and oxygen bottles."
Ken Noguchi, a Japanese mountaineer, has been working for four years to
clean the mountain. He came down with 21/2 tons of refuse, and claims
there are about ten tons of garbage still left up there.
I'd always thought that Mt. Everest posed a daunting and dangerous
challenge to even the most skilled climber, requiring tenacity, courage,
intelligence, and strength. Now, apparently, it's just another tourist
trap. Climbers are zipping up and down the cliffs like frat boys on
spring break, tossing off empties. Next thing you know we'll opening a
Gap store up there, a Starbucks, a multiplex, a Taco Bell.
Nepal, naturally, is reluctant to curb climbers. In addition to
providing employment for Sherpas, each seven member team is required to
pay 70,000 bucks to the Nepalese government. There are usually 12 teams
allowed up every spring, which makes for a nice chunk of change. This
year there were twice as many. One week in May, about 140 people reached
Personally, I am wary of any leisure activity that involves oxygen
deprivation and exertion, but clearly there are many out there who view
facing potential brain damage, freezing to death, severe frostbite, or a
fall from a great height as more of a lark than a challenge.
Maybe Nepal should just put a dome over the whole thing and call it
Everestland. Build a couple roller coasters on its side. Have some
Nepalese dress up like Yeti to throw a scare into the kids. At the very
least, put a couple dumpsters up on the summit, some garbage bins at
least, separated and marked for glass, paper, and trash. I'll let Nepal
borrow mine, if they want. I may not know much about death-defying
adventure, but I do know recycling.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales