Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Sixty years after the first excursion to the summit, mountain climbers and environmentalists are denouncing the sharp decline in the state of the mountain. In recent weeks, Indian and Nepalese soldiers have collected more than 4 thousand kg of waste on the ridges of Everest. The Japanese Yuichiro Miura, who holds the record as the oldest man to have reached the summit, said that "compared to 2003, the year of his first expedition to the Mount, pollution has reached alarming levels."
On 29 May 1953, the Nepalese Terzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir Edmund Percival Hillary were the first to reach the summit of Everest, scaling the southeastern side. Over these past 60 years, the mountain has been a challenge for 4,200 hikers, 516 of which in the last year alone. 81 year old sherpa Kanchha, the only living member of the first expedition, described the mass as "a once untouched place, now it has become a dumping ground". He added that "the Nepalese government should introduce strict limitations on permits."
The authorities in Kathmandu derive huge profits from foreign trips to the Himalayas, but are reluctant on the idea of permits. The President of the Office for Tourism says: "Rather than limit the affluence, it is preferable to focus on greater control of expeditions. Hundreds of people climb European and American mountains every day without encountering problems of this kind."
The Beijing government has launched a series of measures to limit the pace of expeditions. Pasang Onchuk, a Nepalese Sherpa who has climbed the mountain five times - two of them on the Chinese side - explains that " pollution problem does not exist in China and that it is rare to find waste on that side."
Everest, with its 8,848 meters, is the highest peak in the world. Every 29 May, since 2003, a marathon is organized to commemorate what Norgay and Sir Hillary accomplished in 1953. The event brings together hundreds of climbers from Nepal and other countries every year. Yesterday's was won by Nepali Ram Kumar Rajbhandari.