‘Loved to Death’: Mount Everest Base Camp Closes to Tourists

Feb 18, 2019

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If you were looking to achieve your bucket list dream of visiting the world’s tallest mountain this year, it looks like you’re out of luck.

As of February, Mount Everest’s base camp is closed to non-hiking visitors due to an exorbitant amount of trash left behind by hordes of tourists at the site.

According to the most recent figures released by the Chinese Mountaineering Association, the Tibetian base camp saw around 40,000 visitors in 2015. Because it’s accessible by car (as opposed to the Nepalese base-camp, which can only be reached via two-week hike), it’s been steadily growing in popularity among non-sporty tourists who visit for the view of the mountain instead of climbing to its summit.

This popularity, however, has meant an immense influx of trash.

“Like many of the world’s most beautiful places, Mount Everest is at risk of being loved to death,” said professional climber and mountain guide Adrian Ballinger in an op-ed for ABC News. “Too many climbers, too much inexperience and too many ethically questionable commercial outfitters chasing only profits have led to problems with trash, human waste and unnecessary accidents, many of which unfairly impact mountain workers like the Sherpa, Tibetans and other local groups.”

Last spring, up eight tons of waste, including mountaineering equipment and “a startling amount” of human feces, were collected over the course of three clean-up projects. Chinese authorities hope that by closing the base camp to tourists, it will help them focus in on cleaning up the area.

So if you were planning on getting up close and personal with Mount Everest — sorry. For now, the only way to visit the site is to be one of the 300 people who were lucky enough to get an Everest hiking permit for 2019.

Featured photo by Yustinus/Getty Images.

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