Tue. Apr 16th, 2024



NEW DELHI: Kanchha Sherpa, the sole survivor of the mountaineering expedition that first conquered Mount Everest, recently expressed his concerns about overcrowding and pollution on the world’s highest peak. In an interview in Kathmandu, the 91-year-old Sherpa said that the mountain, which is considered God by the Sherpa community, deserves respect.
Kanchha Sherpa was part of the team that accompanied New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the summit in 1953.
He suggested that reducing the number of climbers would be beneficial for the mountain while highlighting that large crowds gather at the summit. Sherpa emphasized the need to address the overcrowding issue.
Over the years, Mount Everest has witnessed thousands of climbers attempting to reach its peak, resulting in increased congestion. During the spring climbing season last year, 667 climbers successfully scaled the mountain. However, this influx of climbers also brought in a significant number of support staff to the base camp between March and May 2023.
The growing population on Mount Everest has raised concerns about waste management. Despite rules requiring climbers to bring back their own trash and equipment or risk losing their deposit, the enforcement of these regulations has been ineffective.
“It is very dirty now. People throw tins and wrappings after eating food. Who is going to pick them up now?” Kanchha said. “Some climbers just dump their trash in the crevasse, which would be hidden at that time but eventually it will flow down to base camp as the snow melts and carries them downward.”
For the Sherpa community, Mount Everest, known as Qomolangma, holds great religious significance as the goddess mother of the world. Before embarking on their climbs, Sherpas traditionally perform religious rituals to pay homage to the mountain. Kanchha Sherpa emphasized the importance of respecting the sacred nature of the mountain and criticized climbers for smoking, eating meat, and littering on its slopes.
Kanchha Sherpa, who was a 20-year-old boy when he joined the Hillary-Tenzing expedition, reminisced about the historic achievement. Although he and his fellow Sherpas were unable to proceed beyond the last camp due to a lack of permits, they celebrated the successful ascent with tea and snacks upon hearing the news on the radio. “We all gathered at Camp 2 but there was no alcohol so we celebrated with tea and snacks,” he said. “We then collected whatever we could and carried it to base camp.”
The route that Hillary, Tenzing, and the Sherpas established from the base camp to the summit is still used by climbers today. However, the section from the base camp to Camp 1, which passes through the unstable Khumbu Icefall, undergoes yearly changes. Kanchha Sherpa now resides in Namche village with his family, where they run a small hotel catering to trekkers and climbers.





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