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A climbing guide on Mount Everest collects trash at an altitude of about 24,000 feet.
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Namgyal Sherpa / AFP / Getty Images
Climbers Clean Up
People who scale the world’s tallest peak must now take out the trash

By Brian Fitzgerald | for Scholastic News

Mount Everest isn’t just the tallest mountain in the world. It’s also the world’s highest garbage dump. Over the years, climbers have left behind an estimated 50 tons of trash. Last month, officials in Nepal announced new rules for cleaning up Everest. In addition to their own trash, climbers must now carry at least 18 extra pounds of waste off the mountain.

Each spring, hundreds of adventurers set out from Nepal to reach the top of Everest. Reaching the summit, almost 30,000 feet above sea level, takes several weeks. Along the way, climbers stop at camps on the mountain to allow their bodies to adjust to the thin air.

Climbers need a lot of gear for the treacherous hike. Many climbers discard anything they no longer need as they hike. As a result, Everest is littered with tents, cans, and other garbage.

That’s why Nepal is forcing climbers to become trash collectors. At a base camp near the bottom of Everest, officials will check to make sure climbers are carrying their share of trash. Violators risk being fined or even barred from future climbs.

This article originally appeared in the April 28, 2014 issue of Scholastic News magazine. To find out more about Scholastic News's great resources, click here.