a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m

Everest Cleaners

It has got to be the highest paid clean-up job in the world, in more ways than one. In a month from now, climbers from Japan, Nepal and South Korea will be traversing the northern slopes of Mount Everest to retrieve garbage dumped by previous expeditions. Japan's Ken Noguchi is quoted as saying the plan is to collect between 2.5 to three tonnes of garbage. He will be heading the team on the Tibetan side of the world's highest mountain, some 29,028 feet tall though there have been reports of some diminishing of height, presumably due to geological factors which the layman cannot quite comprehend. The cleaning is supposed to start between the advanced base camp at 20,997 ft and the final camps which are pitched at 27,230 ft. Noguchi is not the first to take note of pollution on Everest which has been described as "the world's highest garbage site". He is the first to do something about the estimated 100 tonnes of garbage up there, including empty oxygen cylinders, ropes, plastic bags, canisters, ladders, tents and faecal matter, all left behind by previous expeditions. The reports do not, however, mention whether Noguchi & Co will, during the course of their clean-up, also attempt to climb the summit or return empty-handed with not-so-empty plastic bags. 

It is intriguing that the members of this team are all Asian. 

There are no members of the Caucasian race involved in this unprecedented exercise. In the good old days when the likes of Bishop Heber carried the white man's burden, the right reverend prelate even wrote a poem ending with the words "Where every prospect pleases, but only man is vile". 

Hopefully, Everest, or Chomolungma to give it the native name for Mother Goddess, will one day become the point to which man can once again raise his eyes in respectful worship instead of being completely degraded into another stepping stone for unsatisfied over-achievers who, like the proverbial bear, climb every mountain just to see another mountain they can climb up. "Because it's there" cannot be an alibi for abandoning junk on the once pristine slopes of the highest mountain in the world. 

In retrospect, it would have been far more in the fitness of things if the first clean-up expedition had been a truly multilateral one representing every country whose mountaineers had climbed or sought to climb Everest. This summer's all-Asian team can only mark the beginning of the highest cleaning operation in the world.



Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved.

a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m