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Cleaning and Maintaining Climbing Base Camps in South America

Cleaning and Maintaining Climbing Base Camps in South America. In South America there are many beautiful climbing areas that are utilized by a large number of climbers. One feature that all these areas have in common is a lack of facilities for human waste and garbage. Feces and toilet paper are haphazardly and dangerously strewn throughout and near camp, often around water sources. While some climbers dig shallow pit toilets for their stay, little attention is paid by others to preserving sanitation, causing a serious health hazard. I believe that centrally located pit toilets would do much to alleviate the present problems. Using local labor or volunteers under proper supervision would cost little and vastly improve base camps. Digging holes with hand tools and constructing simple wood and metal toilets would be the simplest method. Signs showing the direction of the toilet would insure that the maximum number of people would use it. The problem of trash in base camps is also worldwide. Many people are not educated, not attuned or simply too lazy to deal with their own trash, let alone anyone else’s. For those not inclined to haul out their own trash, it is necessary to establish a central dumping location in the base camp so that the trash does not end up in every nook and cranny around camp. A central trash dump would do two things. It would keep the camp clean. It would centralize trash in a place where it would be easy for a clean-up crew to remove. Many pack animals which haul in food and gear for people go out empty. For a small cost, it would be possible to hire these animals to pack out bags of trash. Areas which I feel particularly should be attended to are as follows. Cordillera Blanca: Pisco road camp; base camps at Allpamayo, Pisco, Chopikalki, Huascarán, Ishinca; Cordillera Huayhuash: Jahuacocha; Aconcagua: all sites; Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre base camps; Torres del Paine base camps.

Glenn Dunmire, Unaffiliated