Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Trash Mountain: As a few hundred people celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hillary and that sherpa guy's summit at Everest, a focused debate has arisen concerning the plight of the mountain. It seems it's too easy to climb nowadays, and like humans everywhere, we tend to leave a lot of trash and environmental destruction in our wake. First of all, mountain-climbing is a hobby. It isn't essential, doesn't really advance society, and mostly serves to give bored rich people a sense of accomplishment. Yes, Hillary and his team deserve serious kudos for being the first to do it, but by now there aren't anymore "firsts" (women, blind, amputees, elderly - they have all done it by now), and I dare say the Mountain is only getting sloppy seconds. Hillary spouts sour grapes when he says it should be closed for five years - easy enough for him to say. Problem is there is an entire economy that revolves around summit attempts, and shutting down the Mountain would possibly do more harm than good. The Nepal government takes a $4000 trash deposit for each team in order to ensure that it brings back that which it takes up, but $4000 is pretty small potatoes when you consider the price of a team climb. It seems reasonable for the Nepalese to limit yearly access to the Mountain, and devote some of the income generated to clean-up and preservation. Hell, charge twice the going rate now. They'll still pay it. Hell, I'd do away with the trash deposit and make it a death deposit. If you don't come back alive, you forfeit your deposit. Now, there's some incentive.

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