At approximately 11:30 AM local time, on May 29th 1953, Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to successfully summit the tallest mountain in the world. Since then there have been approximately 19,000 more climbers who have made it past base camp. To date there have been over 6,000 climbers to successfully summit 29,035 foot behemoth of a mountain. While it is still the top of the world, in recent years, Mount Everest has take on something of a less rarified air. At around $75,000 USD for a guided climb, summiting Everest has become a commodity and is looking more like a tourist attraction. After conquering or at least attempting to conquer Everest, mountaineers leave behind items such as high tech climbing equipment, food, tents, refuse, oxygen bottles, and human excrement, just to name a few. Moreover, years of poor environmental practices are beginning to have effects extending beyond just the visual landscape. The exploitation of Mount Everest has had damaging social and environmental effects. These effects are examples of the negative impact tourists can have on any destination, no matter how desolate. Firm rules and regulations must be imposed and enforced by multiple entities in order to lessen negative impacts that continue to occur on Mount Everest.
According to The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well- being of local people." (TIES, 1990) Many people would not define summiting Everest as a form of ecotourism but as more of a type of adventure tourism. Nonetheless, with the increasing number of climbers to visit Everest each year, the impact has certainly worsened. Some might now classify the climb as a form of environmental terrorism-as seemingly careless practices continue to trash and spoil what was once one of the most pristine landscapes on Earth. Everest has not been living up to ecotourism qualifications, especially when considering the sectors of sustainable management and local benefit.
To understand why such a large environmental impact occurs, one must understand the processes climbers go through. At the top of Mount Everest there is roughly one-third of the oxygen that is present at sea level. Unlike the indigenous people who have truly adapted to the high elevation, many foreign climbers cannot climb Everest without long periods of acclimatization and supplemental oxygen. For lengths up to a month, climbers rest at base camps to reduce the risks and severity of altitude sickness. Living anywhere for a month produces a significant amount of waste. But the difference with Everest is that there is no infrastructure to support the number of visitors during peak climbing season. An estimated 50 tons of rubbish is left by climbing tourists annually. (Mok 2010)
One of the most noticeable articles of refuse on the mountain is the metal oxygen cylinder. Strewn across the main...