From: Reuters
Published March 14, 2008 04:06 AM

Beer bottles, plastic cleared from Mt. Everest trail

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A Nepali airline cleared 17 tons of empty beer bottles and cans on Friday from around Lukla village, the main gateway for trekkers and climbers heading to Mount Everest base camp, a company official said.

Thousands of trekkers and mountain climbers from around the world go to the scenic Khumbhu region every year, towered by the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) mountain.

The trekkers scatter tons of empty beer bottles, plastic packets and cans in Lukla.

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On Friday, a private airline completed a huge clean up operation.

"This is the last cargo in a series we began carrying in January," said Vinaya Shakya, a senior official of the Yeti Airlines, a private carrier which volunteered to do the clean up job.

The bottles will be handed over to breweries for reuse, he added.

The airline said they were hoping the campaign would create more awareness among both the tourists and the locals about preserving and improving the ecological balance in the high Himalayas.

Foreign and Nepali climbers in the recent years have cleared many empty oxygen bottles, plastics, cans, ropes and broken ladders from the slopes of Everest.

But the trekking trail from Lukla to the base camp was littered with garbage.

Ang Tshiring Sherpa, a member of the Himalaya Club, a local environmental group in Lukla, explained that garbage like paper, plastic and aluminum cans was disposed of locally, but the bottles had to be brought to the capital.

"We ran short of space to bury empty bottles," Sherpa, who was involved in the drive said.

Last month, Nepal named the trail from Lukla to the Everest base camp after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who first climbed the Everest summit in 1953.

A small airstrip constructed in Lukla in the 1960s with the help of Hillary has also been named after the pioneering mountaineers.

Tenzing died in 1986 and Hillary passed away this year in New Zealand.

(Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani)

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