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China closes its Everest base camp to tourists

China Closes Everest Base Camp to Address Waste Problem

BEIJING – China has closed the base camp on its side of Mount Everest to visitors without a climbing permit, the authorities have used this unusual initiative to address the growing problem of waste at the site, “BBC” said Friday.
This prohibition means that tourists cannot go to a monastery just below the base camp level of 5,200 m (17,060 ft).
More and more people are visiting the mountain on the southern side of Nepal, but in recent years, their numbers have steadily increased on the Chinese side.
The Chinese base camp, which is located in Tibet, is famous because it is accessible by car, while the Nepalese camp can only be reached by a hike of nearly two weeks.
The highest peak in the world is facing a growing number of garbage for years, as the number of visitors increases.
According to the Chinese Mountaineering Association, 40,000 people visited its base camp in 2015, the most recent year with figures. A record 45,000 people visited Nepal’s base camp in 2016-7, according to the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of Nepal.
Ordinary tourists will be banned only in the areas above Rongbuk Monastery, located at an altitude of about 5,000 meters, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Mountaineers who have a license to climb the 8,848-meter peak will still be able to use the highest camp.
In January, the authorities announced that they would limit the number of climbing permits to 300 each year.
On Chinese social media, rumors have been spreading over recent days that the base camp will be permanently closed to tourists – but Xinhua has quoted officials denying it.
The official announcement of the closure was made in December on the website of the Tibetan authorities.
He said three clean-up operations last spring had collected eight tons of waste, including human excrement and mountaineering equipment.
This year’s clean-up efforts will also attempt to remove corpses of the dead mountaineers in the so-called death zone above 8,000 m, where the air is too thin to sustain life for a long time.
Because of the cold and the high altitude, these bodies often stay on the mountain for years, even decades.
(Sahar News / Monitoring Desk)

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