Summiting Mt. Everest is not a day trip. Depending on who you are and what your personal climb entails, it can take 7-9 weeks to complete it. And in those 7-9 weeks, you’re going to take a dump at some point or another. Authorities, however, are sick of the poop that litters the world’s most famous mountain.
According to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, there’s literally tons of human poop between Camp One and Camp Four. Since it’s so cold and dry up there, all that poop just kind of sits there, not degrading the way poop would normally degrade if, say, someone just pooped on your sea-level lawn.
“Our mountains have begun to stink,” Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, told the BBC. “We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image.”
In an attempt to ensure that image doesn’t get covered in human shit, the local authority that looks after much of the Everest region is enacting an order that requires climbers to pack it in and pack it out. Climbers will need to buy special poo bags at base camp, which will be checked on their return — by someone who surely hates their job — to ensure that they have indeed been shitting into the bags. According to reports, the bags will have chemicals in them that “help to solidify the human excrement and reduce its odor.”
This isn’t the first time the issue of the amount of poop on the mountain has been raised. Back in 2022, Nepal decided that the Everest Base Camp would have to be relocated because it was rapidly becoming unsafe due to climate change and climbers basically just leaving their trash all over the place.
“Along with warming temperatures destabilizing the icy area, local groups were becoming concerned by the amount of trash, urine, and human excrement that was being littered at the camp,” wrote IFLScience.com. “That’s not even mentioning the long-lost human corpses that are emerging out of the melting ice.”
Although the decision to move the base camp was eventually deemed unnecessarily difficult, the issues that led to that decision haven’t stopped. If anything, the number of people trying to summit Everest has gone up as expeditions become more and more accessible to anyone with the money. Images of traffic jams along some of the most dangerous trails on Earth have gone viral and as of this writing, nearly 7,000 people can say they stood on the roof of the world. And it’s a sure bet that pretty much every one of those 7,000 climbers left a pile of poop somewhere up there.