Kathmandu | In its bid to tackle the increasing environmental impact on Mount Everest, Nepal has announced a regulation requiring climbers to manage their own excreta and bring it back to the base camp for proper disposal, it emerged on Thursday.
The Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, which covers most of the Everest region, has introduced the new rule as part of wider measures being implemented to combat the persistent problem of waste accumulation on the world's highest peak, the BBC reported.
"Our mountains have begun to stink," the report quoted Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, as saying.
Extreme temperatures on the world's highest peak at 8,848.86 metres hinder the natural degradation of excrement.
"We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image," Mingma said.
Climbers attempting Mount Everest and nearby Mount Lhotse will be ordered to buy poo bags at base camps, which will be "checked upon their return", the report said.
"Waste remains a major issue, especially in higher up camps where you can't reach," says Chhiring Sherpa, Chief Executive Officer of the non-government organisation Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).
Although no official figure exists, his organisation estimates that there are around three tonnes of human excrement between camp one at the bottom of Everest and camp four, towards the summit, the report said.
Authorised by the Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, the SPCC is now procuring about 8,000 poo bags from the US, for an estimated 400 foreign climbers and 800 support staff for the upcoming climbing season that begins in March.
These poo bags contain chemicals and powders that solidify human excrement and make it largely odourless.
On average, a climber is thought to produce 250 grams of excrement per day. They usually spend about two weeks on the higher camps for the summit attempt.
"With that as the basis, we plan to give them two bags, each of which they can use five to six times," Chhiring said.
Welcoming the decision as "a positive thing", Dambar Parajuli, president of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal, said his organisation will be happy to play its part to make the step successful.