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K2 Clean-Up

K2 Clean-Up. Mountain Wilderness, an international group based in Italy, undertook the Free K2 Expedition, which was dedicated not to climbing the mountain but rather to ridding it of the frightful amount of garbage which has accumulated there over the course of many years. The leader of this effort was Carlo Alberto Pinelli. Prominent among the members of the group were Italians Fausto De Stefani, Dr. Marcello Marini, Giampiero Di Federico, Frenchman Olivier Poulin, Germans Tobias Heymann, Volker Krause, Belgian Jean-Claude Legros, and Pakistani Parvez Khan. A quite sizable group of volunteers as well as a large number of porters completed the working group. The first of them arrived at K2 Base Camp on August 6. They worked for three weeks. Climbers ascended to 7000 meters and retrieved some 12 kilometers of rope, 50 abandoned tents, long metal ladders, metal cable, stoves, oxygen cylinders, gas cartridges and much more from the mountain itself. There and in Advance Base and Base Camp were tons of cans, exhausted batteries, cartons, plastic bags, caches of food, sacks of medicinal supplies, rusty metal, old newspapers, and much more. What could be, was burned. They calculated that there were upwards of 30,000 cans. These, and whatever else was suitable, were squashed in a portable compressor, which was taken to Base Camp so that they could then be carried to Skardu for recycling. Three tons were carried out. The expedition points out that they have worked at only one of the trouble spots. Even worse is the Base Camp for the Gasherbrums. There were 37 mountaineering expeditions that came up the Baltoro Glacier in 1990 and about 100 trekking parties! They are generating an enormous amount of garbage. Depite the ban on collecting firewood, the places where there is any vegetation, such as Payu, are being stripped bare by the porters. Even worse is the mess being created at the Pakistani Army camps. The senseless war between the Pakistanis and the Indians over the Siachen Glacier is supplied up the Baltoro and this is devastating the region. One must hope that the ecological work started here will make climbers and trekkers take more care in the future and that the army will undertake a clean-up and cease to make the region a refuse heap.