AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, Nepal, Kangchenjunga Attempt and Base Camp Cleanup

Kangchenjunga Attempt and Base Camp Cleanup. When I went to Yalung Kang (west summit of Kangchenjunga) in 1987 I was both surprised and saddened to find garbage at BC. I left with the hope that I would be able to return with the economic support necessary to remove the piles of waste.The opportunity presented itself in the fall with three other American climbers: David McNally, Mack Ellerby and Ted Handwerk. Once on the mountain, we climbed independently and on our own schedules. They climbed with Pemba Sherpa and Gombu Sherpa while I climbed with my friend Ang Furi Sherpa. On October 10 Furi and I arrived again at C3 (7300 meters) with the intention of trying for the summit the next day, but I spent a bad night with strong winds and a very sore throat. The next morning, I decided to go back down to BC and by the time I recovered, it was too late for any further summit attempts. Dave and Mack went to C4 with Gombu Sherpa while Ted, not feeling well enough to continue that day, offered his support by waiting for them at C3 in case they needed help. On October 12 Gombu remained at C4 while Dave and Mack reached 8200 meters before having to turn back due to illness.

Our cleaning at BC resulted in removal of 1,140 pounds of garbage, 700 pounds of which consisted of metal which we carried to Kathmandu and gave to the local foundry to be melted down and recycled. Although cleaning alone is not the answer to the restoration of the pristine environment in these remote areas, I had hoped that it would encourage other expeditions not to continue polluting these fragile alpine settings. I admire the high regard for the environment of the Swiss expedition of Erhard Loretan, who set an example of leaving no trace. However, to my dismay, a large portion of our collected garbage was abandoned by one expedition whose BC was only a few meters from ours. On the other hand it is encouraging to see the voluntary involvement of Nepalese like Ang Furi Sherpa, who through his agency volunteered enough support to remove part of the garbage.

Magda King