John Oliver: Mt Everest is polluted for want of selfie photos

Chris Burns - Jun 25, 2019, 4:35pm CDT
John Oliver: Mt Everest is polluted for want of selfie photos

Over the last several months, the constant summiting of Mount Everest has popped up in the news – almost always for reasons rather negative. This week, the summiting of Mount Everest gained some major internet attention thanks to a feature on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Today we’ve got both that and this: A bunch of garbage facts that should deter you and your brethren from attempting the once-awesome, now-awful climb to the world’s highest peak.

It’s less expensive today to climb Mount Everest than it’s been in the past – it’s easier, too. But the climb still requires around five-digit cash sums to travel, and the biggest dangers aren’t what they used to be. According to The Hindu, expeditions can cost as little as $30,000 per climber, so long as you’re working with a “budget expedition company.”

The photo you see above was captured by Dawa Steven Sherpa, who was also quoted by a number of news releases this week due to the renewed push to keep the mountain clean. D.S. Sherpa’s been leading an independent cleanup crew for the area for over a decade, attempting to do away with the following masses of trash.

Amount of Garbage on Everest:
• 20k+ kg (44k lb) removed by Sherpa’s crew since 20018
• 5k+ kg (11k lb) estimated trash on South Col this year
• 8k+ kg (17.6k lb) estimated human excrement left during this year’s climbing season

South Col is also known as Camp 4, the highest campsite on Everest. This campsite is approximately 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) above sea level, quite near the summit of the mountain. This camp is not very clean, currently. The government is apparently working on a tag-and-scan system for future climbing seasons which would have all climber equipment and gear accounted for at the end of each trip, on penalty of $4k.

As you’ll likely have seen in the video above, Last Week Tonight created a Mount Everest experience webpage for those prospective mountain climbers who might’ve reconsidered their trip to the summit. That is The Top of Mount Everest dot com and it’s a very simple concept.

If you’re still not convinced that summiting Mount Everest is a bad idea, know this: Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain on earth. If you’re measuring using “base elevation,” you’ll find that Everest ranges from 4,200 m (13,800 ft) on the south side to 5,200 m (17,100 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau. That’s according to a 1991 official map prepared by Bradford Washburn for the Boston Museum of Science, the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, and the National Geographic Society, 1991. You can find that map with code ISBN 3-85515-105-9 if you do so desire.

Using a base elevation calculation the mountain Mauna Kea in Hawaii is over 10,200 m (33,464.6 ft) tall. This mountain has most of its mass under water – just 4,205 m (13,796 ft) can be seen above sea level. The Alaskan mountain Denali has a height above base range of 5,300 to 5,900 m (17,400 to 19,400 ft). So, maybe it’s worth exploring other land masses? Or maybe just go there with virtual reality!

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