China has closed its Mount Everest base camp to tourists as part of a clean up campaign, after huge piles of rubbish took over the area.
The site, located in Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve in Tibet, is accessible by car and is visited by tens of thousands of visitors each year – with numbers rising in recent years.
The unusual move comes after mounting levels of waste led to concerns for the environment, as the site has become nothing more than a dump site.
As reported by Xinhua Net, ordinary tourists are now banned from the core zone, however people with climbing permits will still be able to visit the site.
However, Chinese authorities announced in January that these permits would be limited to less than 300 a year – a third fewer than usual – The Telegraph reported.
It is hoped these drastic measures will enable a huge cleaning up effort to take place in order to deal with the escalating mounds of rubbish on the mountain.
NATIONAL NEWS: China bans non-climbers from Mount Everest base camp
China has banned tourists from accessing its Mount Everest base camp in Tibet amid an ongoing campaign to clean up trash in the mountainous region, said state media Friday. Read more: https://t.co/TsCa73SxFE pic.twitter.com/P5DVg7rCz9
— Pretoria Rekord (@RekordNewspaper) February 16, 2019
The ban means ordinary tourists will only be able to go as far as the Rongpo Monastery, which is around 5,000 metres above sea level. A new ‘tent camp’ will be set up nearly two kilometres away from the original one.
The deputy director of the reserve’s administration, Kelsang, told Xinhua Net that this will not affect tourists from appreciating the mountain.
The new tent camp for ordinary tourists can still allow them to clearly see the 8,800-meter-plus mountain.
In recent days, rumours have been rife that the base camp will be permanently closed to tourists. However, Xinhua Net states local authorities deny this claim.
China has banned tourists from accessing its Mount Everest base camp because of waste buildup pic.twitter.com/KWZaIffLCr
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 19, 2019
The Chinese Mountaineering Association says that 40,000 people visited the base camp in 2015, the most recent year with figures, the BBC reports.
Wang Shen, county chief of Dingri at the mountain foot, told Xinhua Net:
These measures aim to strike a balance between various demands such as environmental protection, local poverty relief, mountaineering and education.
The massive clean up effort will also attempt to deal with the bodies of mountaineers who have died in the ‘death zone’ which is located above 8,000 metres, where many lose their life due to their bodies being unable to acclimatise to the altitude.
Often, these bodies remain on the mountain for years – sometimes even decades – because of the cold weather and high altitude.
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