Five myths about Mount Everest

Aydin Irmak, who tried to summit Mt. Everest with a commuter bike, at base camp in 2012. (By Grayson Schaffer) Grayson Schaffer, senior editor at Outside magazine, wrote “The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest” in the […]

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Decades of human waste have made Mount Everest a ‘fecal time bomb’

When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953, it was arguably the loneliest place on Earth — an oxygen-deprived desert perched atop an icy, 29,000-foot ladder of death. Over the last 62 years, […]

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After tragedy, Nepal switches to safer Mt. Everest route

It’s a universal fact that climbing Mount Everest in Nepal is one of the most dangerous bucket-list goals in the world. But that danger got even more extreme last year, when the deadliest ice collapse in Everest history killed 16 […]

Nepal-Himalayas

11 Interesting Facts About Nepal Which Will Amuse You

Nepal is a beautiful country with never ending stunning landscapes, charismatic mountains and mesmerizing lakes. Nepal is one of the finest country with wide prospect of development in technology and tourism sectors. With wide variety of flora and fauna in the […]

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12 Reasons Nepal Should Go On Your Vacation Bucket List

1. The Annapurna Region Nepal is home to the Annapurna Region which is known for having some of the world’s best trekking routes. There’s also the Lake City of Pokhara and shorter treks. The Annapurna Region compiles the wettest, driest, and […]

 

Five myths about Mount Everest

Aydin Irmak, who tried to summit Mt. Everest with a commuter bike, at base camp in 2012. (By Grayson Schaffer)

Grayson Schaffer, senior editor at Outside magazine, wrote “The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest” in the August issue. Since this month’s avalanche, he has been working with the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation to raise money for the Sherpa community through the sale of Everest photographs.

After 16 Mount Everest porters died in an avalanche on April 18, the world reacted with sorrow and outrage. Was any Westerner’s adventure vacation worth so many lives? But the place of Sherpas, the ethnic group that supports climbers, in Everest’s unusual economy is just one subject of confusion about the world’s tallest peak.

1. Everest is one of the hardest mountains to climb.

Everest is very high — 29,035 feet the last time it was measured — and very dangerous. More than 250 people have died on the mountain since an avalanche killed seven Sherpa porters working for the doomed British explorer George Mallory in 1924. The mountain has more ways to kill you than a “Hunger Games” arena: glacial ice collapses, pulmonary and cerebral edema, falls, dysentery, stroke and hypothermia. But despite these dangers, the mountain is not technically difficult to climb.

More than 5,000 people have climbed Everest via two routes — the Southeast Ridge, from Nepal, and the North Col Route, from Tibet. These are what climbers call “walk-ups,” or long, slow, plodding ascents. Guides such as Dave Hahn have climbed the mountain 15 times, while two Sherpas, Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa, have climbed it an astonishing 21 times. Meanwhile, K2, the world’s second-highest peak, is more difficult to conquer, as is Mount Nuptse, which is right next to Everest. Unlike its giant neighbor, this satellite peak is consistently steep and offers few safe places to camp.

2. Climbing Everest takes you into the wild.

To reach Everest’s base camp, climbers fly to Lukla, a sketchy airstrip on a cliff at more than 9,000 feet. From there, they walk about 40 miles along a single-file path through traditional Sherpa villages, taking about 10 days to acclimatize to the altitude of base camp at 17,600 feet. But it’s important not to confuse a high, harsh environment with wilderness.

The Khumbu region has wide-screen televisions, espresso bars, banks with ATMs and Internet cafes. In Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital at 12,000 feet, there are two familiar sounds: the “tink-tink” of rocks being broken for the construction of hotels and the “thwop-thwop” of helicopters shuttling gear. At the top of the Khumbu is the tiny outpost Gorak Shep, with a pair of seasonally operated tea houses, or hostels, and an outhouse that is continually overflowing with waste. Only two miles beyond is the shining city of Everest base camp.

Or at least that is what base camp feels like: a city. There’s a helipad and a hospital. There are communications tents, commissary tents, kitchen tents and mess tents. In 2012, the mountaineering company Himalayan Experience had a whiskey-tasting yurt to complement its golf-ball-shaped white dome tent, which has doubled as a nightclub.

Everest even has a sewage problem. When base camp’s outhouse barrels are filled, porters haul them to open pits near Gorak Shep. Meanwhile, above base camp, most climbers straddle small crevasses to relieve themselves. The result: The peak has become a fecal time bomb, and the mess is gradually sliding back toward base camp. In 2012, Swiss climber Ueli Steck told me that he won’t even boil snow for water at Everest’s Camp II, because he thinks the lower boiling temperature at that altitude won’t kill germs.

3. Sherpas are the best climbers on the mountain.

Sherpas — ethnic Tibetans who arrived in Nepal’s Khumbu region centuries ago — have genetic advantages over their Western clients. A study released in 2010 by the University of California at Berkeley identified more than 30 genetic enhancements among Tibetans that make their bodies well-suited for high-altitude exertion. One of them, EPAS1, is known as the “super-athlete gene” because it’s associated with a more efficient use of oxygen by the body.

But Sherpas sometimes lack training, experience and appropriate equipment. Historically, their focus has been on carrying loads. Until the late 1990s, it was common to see Sherpas in tennis shoes and cotton clothing.

That is changing. Better training and gear have become more accessible since about 2000, a result of vocational climbing programs. And a handful of Sherpas have earned certifications that allow them to guide clients, not just carry equipment. Dawa Steven Sherpa, who runs the Kathmandu-based outfitter Asian Trekking, says that, these days, “sometimes there is no difference between a Sherpa and a Western guide.”

4. People who want to climb Everest tend to be thrill-seeking amateurs.

Each year, there are stories about people who show up at Everest with little or no climbing experience, hoping to fulfill a dream — or to indulge a whim — of summiting. In 2012, I wrote about Aydin Irmak, a New Yorker who had never climbed and wanted to carry his 10-speed commuter bike to the summit. That same year, Canadian Shriya Shah-Klorfine trained for Everest by hiking with a heavy backpack, but had never climbed a mountain. Irmak made the summit without his bike but had to be rescued during his descent. Shah-Klorfine died and became the subject of a “Dateline” segment about the dangers of Everest.

These cases are the exception. Climbing Everest as a commercial client of a well-respected outfitter requires several years of prerequisite climbs. Most people start by climbing Europe’s Mont Blanc, or Mount Rainier or the Grand Teton in the United States. They may try Alaska’s Denali, the highest mountain in North America, or Aconcagua in the Andes. Everest’s price tag also deters amateurs: After prerequisite climbs, summiting can cost between $35,000 to $100,000 — and that’s not including gear, airfare or tips for Sherpas.

5. The avalanche that killed the sherpas was unusual.

News reports made the April 18 avalanche sound like a freak occurrence. The New York Times wrote, “They creep one by one across ladders propped over crevasses, burdened with food and supplies, all the while watching the great wall of a hanging glacier, hoping that this season will not be the year it falls.”

In fact, this hanging glacier on Everest’s West Shoulder calves daily, and everybody is terrified of its regular releases. In 2012, members of a National Geographic/North Face expedition took to calling it “the Fangs,” while an Eddie Bauer group I was living with at base camp called it “the Horseshoe.” That year, Russell Brice, a New Zealander who owns and runs Himalayan Experience, decided to call off his expedition in part because of this same hanging glacier. I happened to be walking by as he stood on the helipad with clients who were questioning his decision.

“We’re climbers, we’re used to taking risks,” they said.

Brice pointed to the hanging glacier and said, “That’s what I’m worried about.”

Source: the washington post

Decades of human waste have made Mount Everest a ‘fecal time bomb’

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When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953, it was arguably the loneliest place on Earth — an oxygen-deprived desert perched atop an icy, 29,000-foot ladder of death.

Over the last 62 years, more than 4,000 climbers have replicated the pair’s feat, with hundreds more attempting to do so during the two-month climbing season each spring, according to the Associated Press.

Along the way, people have left oxygen canisters, broken climbing equipment, trash, human waste and even dead bodies in their wake, transforming the once pristine peak into a literal pile of … well, you get the idea.

“The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps,” mountaineer Mark Jenkins wrote in a 2013 National Geographic article on Everest.


Sherpas spend time near their tents. (Phurba Tenjing Sherpa/Reuters file)

This week, Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.

At base camp, the Associated Press reported, climbers have access to toilet tents with drums that are carried to lower areas and properly disposed once they are full.

“Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” Tshering told the AP, noting that the waste has been “piling up” for years around the four camps, where climbers spend weeks acclimatizing to the high altitude without access to toilets.

The warnings aren’t new. This, for instance, is from a 2012 Washington Post opinion piece by Grayson Schaffer, an editor for Outside magazine:

Everest even has a sewage problem. When base camp’s outhouse barrels are filled, porters haul them to open pits near Gorak Shep. Meanwhile, above base camp, most climbers straddle small crevasses to relieve themselves. The result: The peak has become a fecal time bomb, and the mess is gradually sliding back toward base camp. In 2012, Swiss climber Ueli Steck told me that he won’t even boil snow for water at Everest’s Camp II, because he thinks the lower boiling temperature at that altitude won’t kill germs.

So, how much waste are we talking about? As much as “26,500 pounds of human excrement” each season, “most of it bagged and carried by native Sherpas to earthen pits near Gorak Shep, a frozen lake bed and village at 16,942 feet,” according to Grinnell College.

As Sherpa Pemba Nima told SummitClimb.com when asked about pollution coming from the Everest base camp, the problem extends beyond the mountain to the watershed below.

“Ohh… awful…  Pollution everywhere. Our main water source has been polluted. The dumping site is along the main trail to EBC, sometimes our local animals (yaks) fall into the pit. Even though it has been moved to different location now, I think it takes so many years to disintegrate because of the cold climate the pollution will remain there for many years.”

There are people fighting to clean up the mounting piles of trash.

Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading Everest cleanup expeditions since 2008, told the AP that some climbers carry disposable toilet bags with them at higher altitudes. A group of Nepali artists has collected 1.5 tons of Everest trash — including remnants of a crashed helicopter — brought down by climbers and transformed it into 74 pieces of art, according to CNN.

And yet, the Everest Summiteers Association, which has also collected tons of debris from the mountain, estimates there might be as much as 10 tons of trash left on Everest — a figure that is only expected to grow, according to Time.

Last year, the Nepali government instituted a new rule requiring each climber to bring 18 pounds of trash off the mountain —  “the amount it estimates a climber discards along the route,” according to the AP. Climbing teams that don’t comply forfeit their $4,000 deposits.

“Each expedition to Everest is required to take a garbage deposit and bring their waste back,” Everest Summiteers Association general secretary Diwas Pokhrel told CNN. “But this system has not been strictly implemented.”

Source: the washington post

After tragedy, Nepal switches to safer Mt. Everest route

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It’s a universal fact that climbing Mount Everest in Nepal is one of the most dangerous bucket-list goals in the world. But that danger got even more extreme last year, when the deadliest ice collapse in Everest history killed 16 Sherpa guides. And fortunately, Nepal is acting accordingly.

In March, the country will change its current route up the mountain to a safer path — but interestingly, it’s actually not a new one. Rather, Nepal will simply revert back to the original route mountaineers began taking after Everest was first climbed in 1953.

So, why did the route change in the first place? The route was tweaked in the 1990s so that mountaineers could climb the “west shoulder” rather than going straight up, because it was actually shorter and easier to climb. The problem was that the risk of avalanche was greater there, but at that point, the upside outweighed any drawbacks.

Fast-forward to the accident in 2014, and that’s no longer the case. “We think the risk of avalanche in the left part of the Khumbu Icefall is growing, and we are moving the route to the center, where there is almost no such danger,” Ang Dorji Sherpa, chairman of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, told BBC News. “The route through the center part will be difficult and time-consuming, but it will be relatively free from the risk of avalanche, as the ice cliffs and hanging glaciers [along the west shoulder] are comparatively far away from it,” he continued.

It’s a welcome change for Everest’s Sherpa guides. After the collapse last year, they instigated a boycott in which they asked for better wages and conditions. They also asked the government to put aside its environmental concerns and allow helicopters to drop equipment at Base One — the first camp where mountaineers stop after Base Camp — so that they wouldn’t have to schlep so much heavy gear through such difficult terrain. And for good reason: About 250 people have died trying to ascend Mount Everest since the first climb in 1953, 40 of whom died specifically in the Khumbu Icefall.

In the end, all of the Everest expeditions were cancelled. But the government is not budging on the helicopter front. “Nepal’s law does not allow even rescue helicopters above Base Camp, mainly because of the environmental fragility of the mountains, and we agree with that provision,” Tika Gurung, an executive member of the Expedition Operators’ Association of Nepal, told BBC News.

For now, it’s just one (very cold) step at a time.

source: totaltravel

11 Interesting Facts About Nepal Which Will Amuse You

Nepal-Himalayas

Nepal is a beautiful country with never ending stunning landscapes, charismatic mountains and mesmerizing lakes.

Nepal is one of the finest country with wide prospect of development in technology and tourism sectors. With wide variety of flora and fauna in the country, Nepal beholds some of the rarest species like the one-horned Rhino, the Bengal tiger and their national flower Rhododendron.

But how many of us know these interesting facts about our neighbors ?

1.  Major Part Of Himalayas is In Nepal

Nepal-HimalayasThe Himalayas mountains is shared between five countries in descending order: Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Pakistan. The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest

2. Nepal was never under any foreign invasion

Gurkhas-Nepali

Nepal does not have an independent day because Nepal was never colonized. Nepal is also the oldest country in South Asia.

3. Nepal is the only country with a non-rectangular flag

nepal flag

Nepal’s flag is maroon with two triangular shapes stacked on one another with blue border. The upper triangle consists of moon and the lower triangle consists of the sun. The basic design of this flag is over 2000 years old.

4. Nepal Was Once named as the weed capital

weed-nepal

Weed is said to be illegal and is not available for buy and sale, we can find the growth of weeds everywhere mostly in the rural area, around the roads, ditches, farm lands, mountainside and everywhere. Who would not love to fire a pot and get along with the fine environment that Nepal beholds.

5. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha

buddha

Siddhartha Gautam (Buddha) was born in Kapilvastu, Lumbini which lies in Nepal. Lumbini is a sacred place for Buddhists.

6. About 60% people in Nepal surf internet with a speed which is below 256 kbps

nepal-internet

Internet was introduced in Nepal back in 1994, even though surprisingly Nepal stands second after Libya for low internet connection as a country.

7. The only living goddess in the world called Kumari can be found in Nepal

The literal meaning of Kumari is Virgin. In Nepal these kumari, or “living goddesses,” are pre-pubescent girls considered to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy, incarnations of the goddess known as Taleju, the Nepalese name for Durga.

Selected as children, they live in temples, are carried in chariots during festivals and are worshipped by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists. They retire upon puberty.

8. Nepal Gurkhas have been part of the British Army Since 1816

“Better to die than be a coward” is the motto of the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who are an integral part of the British Army since 1815 when a peace agreement was clinched by the British East India Company after it suffered heavy casualties during an invasion of Nepal.

9.  Nepal Holds A Number of Records Which Makes A High Profile for this Small Country

Tilicho_Lake-Nepal

Mount Everest being the peak of the world at the height of 8,848 m, there are others like the Tilicho lake- the highest lake on earth at the height of 4800m, Shey Phoksundo Lake- the deepest lake of 145m at the height of 3600m, the deepest gorge of Kalidanki of 1200m and the highest valley on Earth- the Arun valley. Nepal also holds some of the world famous Guinness world records and different international prizes, international recognitions and involvements that have made the profile of this small country to be one of the best.

10.  Not a single drop of blood has ever been shed in Nepal in the name of religious and ethnic riot.

buddha-was-born-in-Nepal

Something for the world to learn from these people who hold the best feeling for Unity and Patriotism. There hasn’t been a single case were there has been a clash in the name of religion in Nepal.

11. Nepal has over 80 ethnic groups and 123 Languages

Source: desinema.com

12 Reasons Nepal Should Go On Your Vacation Bucket List

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1. The Annapurna Region
Nepal is home to the Annapurna Region which is known for having some of the world’s best trekking routes. There’s also the Lake City of Pokhara and shorter treks. The Annapurna Region compiles the wettest, driest, and windiest places in Nepal.

2. The High Peaks
Seven of the world’s highest peaks are situated within Nepal. All of the peaks reach over 20,000 ft. You may not actually be on top of the world, but it will sure feel like you are.

3. The Bird Watching
With over 856 known species, Nepal is a bird watcher’s paradise. That’s almost 10% of the world’s total bird population. Chances are you’ll see several birds during your stay.

4. The Multitude Of Adventures
Nepal is the perfect destination for adventure seekers. They have mountaineering, trekking, rafting, wildlife safaris, hot air balloons, paragliding, bungee jumping, ultralights, and more. Good luck choosing.

5. World Heritage Sites
Nepal is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites which further adds to the cultural charm. Make sure to check out the various temples, monasteries, inns, and more to experience Old World culture.

6. Value for Money
Nepal is surprisingly affordable. This is particularly true if you compare Nepal’s hiking trails to others such as Kilimanjaro or the Inca Trail. With the food pricing, you could live off of about $10 a day. And you can find a decent, clean hotel room for about $18.50.

7. The Lakes
The various lakes of Nepal are known not only for their outstanding beauty but also for their spiritual importance. There are over 200 lakes in Nepal with glacier origin. Who needs the sea when you have all these lakes?

8. The Elevation Change
Nepal is the only country in the world where the elevation will change from 60 meters to over 8,000 meters above sea level. It’s quite the experience.

9. Diverse Cultures
Over 35 different ethnic groups call Nepal home. This means there are multiple religions, languages, musical influence, and foods. Nepal is a wonderful place to immerse yourself into different cultures and leave your comfort zone. And Nepal is the only place in the world where people worship the living goddess, Kumari.

10. Nepalese Food
Although Nepalase dishes do result from heavy South Asian influences like China and India, the food is usually healthier with more lean meats and veggies. Other common ingredients include lentils, tomatoes, cumin, potatoes, yogurt, and garlic. And you can eat overlooking views like this!

11. Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley
The Kathmandu Valley is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is composed of seven different “Monument Zones.” These zones include urban centers with palaces, temples, and the oldest known Buddhist monument thought to be built in the third century B.C.

12. Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley
The Kathmandu Valley is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is composed of seven different “Monument Zones.” These zones include urban centers with palaces, temples, and the oldest known Buddhist monument thought to be built in the third century B.C.