Following the thread about Everest Base Camp related questions, its almost a globally known fact that the Everest Base Camp is very much crowded and consequently very much into garbage disposal problems. Various sources talk about the issue:

(Source 1)
(Source 2)

I guess the kind of people visit the place are not entirely responsible to the garbage, or are they?
These expeditions are lengthy and exhaustive, and they consume a lot of your energy and funds. Most of the visitors prefer to have porters. With such people you can't expect them to pack their own non-biodegradable waste to be brought along to the civilized areas where the waste can be disposed in a proper way. They should do the very best effort to do so, but its practically not possible for everyone to follow the protocol. This garbage dump at the Everest Base Camp is really a potential threat to hygiene and can jeopardize an expedition for such a stupid cause.

  • Is it the crowd, (or should I say mob) sole reason for it getting that bad with Garbage issue?
  • I always believe managing own garbage is the way to go in nature, and should be made mandatory by means of well-drafted rules and regulations. But considering the geography, How one should really go about managing own garbage at higher altitudes and camps set at higher altitudes?

Is there a solid solution to prevent this problem? This would really sound like a very broad issue, and I do not expect an answer here at the forum, this is organizational stuff, but this question has to be raised and talked about.

Narrowing the scope, I'd like to say that as I am planning to go there in near future, not for a summit but for a Base Camp trek, I'd like to receive any suggestions and ideas using which I wouldn't add more to the issue, and can manage my own trash. I always do, but this is going to be a trek of nearly 2 weeks, from Kathmandu, to Kathmandu and that make it a challenge to carry own stuff that too including the garbage. I am not sure about the garbage disposal infrastructure at Lukla, if there is any.

  • Are you planning on solo trekking to base camp? By solo I mean without Sherpa's and not in a paid for expedition?
    – user2766
    Sep 23, 2014 at 9:58
  • @liam: Mostly Yes. But, even if I am joined by a friend, I am not hiring a Porter and a Sherpa. Thats for sure.
    – WedaPashi
    Sep 23, 2014 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


The first thing you need to ask yourself is why is there so much rubbish?

Getting things up and down to Everest base camp is exhausting! The Sherpas (who do the vast majority of the lifting and carrying, and are typically not paid well) have no incentive to carry down things that the majority of their western clients don't ask about. Clients typically don't ask why that discarded Oxygen cylinder wasn't brought down and so it has been easy to simply leave any discarded equipment on the mountain.

However, this recently has started to change, with some companies now paying their Sherpas for each kilogram of rubbish they bring down (as well as up). This incentivizes the Sherpas to bring that old Oxygen cylinder back down.

The Government has also stepped in:

It recently announced that all climbers will need to bring back 8 kg of rubbish on their way down unless they want to forgo their $4,000 deposit. - See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/05/economist-explains-15#sthash.4mCGpvXR.dpuf

If you are climbing with Sherpas they will likely do this carrying for you. If you're on your own, you'll need to do this yourself. Eight kilograms doesn't sound like a lot at sea level, but at 28,000 feet (8500 m), that is a lot!

The Nepalese government is seriously considering banning solo treks up Everest. If this happens you will need to book with a company to do this. If you book with a comapny, they will deal with this for you.

  • Is your statement, that on booked treks the company will care for it, what should be the case or is it really happening for most companies i.e. is it enforced somehow? There is so much money in this business that I would not be surprised if this was not the case...
    – imsodin
    Jun 5, 2015 at 13:28
  • Hi @imsodin It should be enforced by the government, via deposit retention. So every company should bring back its own rubbish. Should.... I would guess that there are many shades of grey in this particular argument, some of the better companies likely put a lot of time effort and money into keeping the mountain clean, but there is also scope to save a lot of money if you manage to get around the regulations,etc. Nepal is a very poor country and I'm sure inspectors could be "persuaded" to look the other way quite easily. I'd check the ethical credentials of any company you book with.
    – user2766
    Jun 5, 2015 at 13:52

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