(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –China is to restrict the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by up to one-third this year as part of a major cleanup of the world’s highest peak.
The total number of people allowed to climb from the mountain via Tibet will be limited to fewer than 300, Chinese state media reported on Monday. The climbing season will also be restricted to spring, the season in which the world’s highest mountain is almost invariably attempted.
State-run China Daily said cleanup efforts would also include the recovery of the bodies of climbers who died at more than 8,000metres (26,246ft) up the mountain, known as the “death zone” where the air is too thin to sustain human life for long.
Every year, about 60,000 climbers, guides, and tourists visit the region of Everest between Nepal and Tibet, with hundreds attempting to climb the 8,850m (29,035ft) peak from both sides.
Most climbers, however, approach the peak from the southern side in Nepal via the popular South Col route. In 2017, 648 people reached the summit of Everest, including 202 from the Tibetan side, according to the nonprofit body Himalayan Database.
However in recent years the Chinese side has become more popular as expedition guiding companies have opted for the northern approach because of the dangerous ice fall on the Nepalese side, a jumble of tottering ice cliffs and crevasses that climbers must pass.
Some guiding companies have also cited concerns over safety following the recent proliferation of cut-price guiding companies in Nepal.
In June, Chinese state media said a team of 30 people had cleared 8.5 tonnes of rubbish, faeces and equipment from the peak that had accumulated since April. Workers said cleaning the peak was almost as strenuous as attempting to summit it.
China has set up stations to sort, recycle and break down rubbish from the mountain, which includes cans, plastic bags, stove equipment, tents and oxygen tanks.