China: No Permit, No Trip to Everest Base Camp

Tourist ban aims to cut down on mountain trash
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2019 12:00 PM CST
China: No Permit, No Trip to Everest Base Camp
People collect garbage at the north slope of Mount Everest (Qomolangma) in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.   (Awang Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP)

China is making a move to help with the trash problem on Mount Everest. Bejing is closing the base camp on the Tibet side of the peak to everyone except those with climbing permits, reports the BBC. And China hands out only 300 of those permits a year. The Tibetan base camp is typically a popular one for thousands tourists because it is accessible by car. The move means permit-less visitors can ascend no higher than a monastery at nearly 16,400 feet on the Tibet side. By contrast, the base camp on the Nepalese side of the mountain requires a two-week hike to reach.

Though the move isn't permanent, the Tibetan base camp and other areas above 17,000 feet "will be closed for tourism for an indefinite period, mainly for ecological conservation," an official tells the South China Morning Post. It's just one effort to cut down on trash, at least 9 tons of which was collected last year. The 300 climbers allowed to set out from Tibet's base camp in 2019 must carry all waste out with them. Per the Post, 200 people will also form a task force charged with clearing any remaining waste from the mountain. (Nepal has the same problem with Everest trash.)

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