KATHMANDU – A top Nepalese mountaineer who holds the record for the number of successful summits of Everest left for another attempt on Wednesday on a mission to clean garbage from the world’s highest peak.
Apa Sherpa, 51, who has climbed the mountain a record 20 times, is leading the Eco Everest Expedition 2011, which aims to collect four tons of garbage under a “Cash for Trash” program funded by a private trekking company.
A team of 58 people, including 23 foreigners, will take part, earning 100 rupees ($1.40) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of garbage brought to the base camp. Empty oxygen bottles, ropes and tents are the most frequently discarded items.
“If my ascent would promote the cause and help protect the mountain, I am always ready to climb,” said the man nicknamed “Super Sherpa” before his flight to the Everest region.
Apa, who completed his first Everest summit in 1990, started his mountaineering career as a porter in his early teens.
He said the latest expedition would seek to set an example of how to climb in an eco-friendly manner.
“We will not use fossil fuel. We will cook using solar-enabled cookers and drink sterilized water instead of boiling it,” he said.
Around 3,000 people have climbed the 8,848-meter (29,028-foot) Himalayan peak, which straddles Nepal and China, since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Japanese climber Ken Noguchi will also take part in the cleaning mission. He hopes to bring down another ton of garbage, taking the total collection to five tons.
This climbing season, which runs from spring to the summer monsoon, will also see a diverse group of Nepalese civil servants scale the mountain in a bid to raise awareness about climate change.