To clean up bodies and trash, China is limiting the number of climbers that can reach the world’s tallest mountain.
It comes with little surprise the world’s most famous mountain is also one of the dirtiest. Trash and bodies are left season after season in the taxing high-altitude landscape.
One climber who died on the mountain, Green Boots, has been frozen for so long and is so recognizable that he’s a landmark for climbers ascending Everest’s most popular route. But China hopes to lighten the atmosphere with cleanup efforts this year.
For this spring season, China cut the number of climbers attempting Everest by one third. That leaves 300 hopeful climbers with summit permits from Everest’s north side.
China’s cleanup plan includes recovering bodies of climbers at 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) or higher. At this height, known as the death zone, climbers routinely succumb to the effects of altitude sickness.
The country also set up stations to organize and recycle garbage, including cans, plastics, stove equipment, tents, and oxygen tanks.
2019 Everest Cleanup: China Limits Permits
From the north side, roughly 60,000 people visit the Everest area each year. And while less popular, hundreds still summit via the north every year. In 2017, 202 of the 648 people to summit did so from the north side, according to the Himalayan Database.
That same year, six climbers died, including one from the north side.
Everest expedition organizers also plan to clean up the mountain from the Nepalese side. Cleanup efforts from the south include collecting trash and carrying the load back to Base Camp via helicopter.