Himalayan Journal vol.35
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.35

Publication year:
1979

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. THE STORY OF THE HIMALAYAN CLUB, 1928-1978
    (JOHN MARTYN)
  3. FIFTY YEARS RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
    (TREVOR BRAHAM)
  4. THE PASSANRAM AND TALUNG VALLEYS, SIKKIM
    (DR EUGEN ALLWEIN)
  5. NANDA DEVI AND THE SOURCES OF THE GANGES
    (H. W. TILMAN)
  6. THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE, 1935
    (ERIC SHIPTON)
  7. THE SHAKSGAM EXPEDITION, 1937
    (MICHAEL SPENDER)
  8. GANGOTRI TRIANGULATION
    (Major GORDON OSMASTON)
  9. EVEREST, 1976
    (MAJOR M. W. H. DAY, R.E.)
  10. LHOTSE, 1976
    (KANJI KAMEI)
  11. THE SECOND ASCENT OF LHOTSE, 1977
    (DR HERMANN WARTH)
  12. MAKALU, 1976
    (ANDERS BOUNDER & OTHERS)
  13. THE CLEAN-UP TREK, 1976
    (MICHAEL CORDELL)
  14. THE THIRD KOREAN MANASLU EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JUNG SUP KIM)
  15. THE HONGKONG KANJIROBA EXPEDITION, 1976
    (DICK ISHERWOOD)
  16. AVALANCHE ON SISNE, 1977
    (R. A. L. ANDERSON)
  17. DHAULAGIRI IV, 1975
    (KUNIAKI YAGIHARA)
  18. NORTH SIKKIM, 1976
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  19. NANDA DEVI FROM THE NORTH, 1976
    (H. ADAMS CARTER)
  20. NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY - A NATURALIST'S REPORT
    (LAVKUMAR KHACHER)
  21. A BOTANICAL SURVEY IN THE NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY, 1974
    (N. C. SHAH)
  22. AN ATTEMPT ON NITALTHAUR, 1974
    (MANIK BANERJEE)
  23. CHAMRAO GLACIER EXPEDITION-1977
    (M. DEY)
  24. CHIRING WE, 1977
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  25. KINNAUR-1976
    (LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BALWANT SANDHU)
  26. BLACK PEAK, 1976
    (MANDIP SINGH SOIN)
  27. NILAMBAR EXPEDITION, 1977
    (RANVIR SINGH)
  28. POLISH K2 EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JANUSZ KURCZAB)
  29. A CRAWL DOWN THE OGRE
    (DOUG SCOTT)
  30. ISTOR-O-NAL NORTH I, 1976
    (RONALD NAAR)
  31. THE ASCENT OF SHERPI KANGRP 1976
    (PROF. KAZUMASA HIRAI)
  32. AFGHAN DARWAZ, 1975
    (RYSSZARD W. SCHRAMM)
  33. SWISS THUI EXPEDITION, 1975
    (DR ADOLF DIEMBERGER and HANS SCHIBLI)
  34. CLIMBING SHERPAS OF DARJEELING
    (DORJEE LHATOO)
  35. OF MOUNTAINS & MEMORIES
    (SITU MULLICK)
  36. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  37. OBITUARIES
  38. BOOK REVIEWS
  39. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  40. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1976
  41. EXPEDITIONS 1975-1977

THE CLEAN-UP TREK, 1976

MICHAEL CORDELL

(There has been a considerable amount of publicity given recently to the so-called 'clean-up campaigns' in Nepal, particularly around the area of the Everest Base Camp trek. The officialdom in Nepal initially over- reacted (in '.my opinion) to the rather innocent prick of the conscience on the part of the foreign trekkers who undertook to reverse the situation in their own way'; however, apparently saner thoughts have prevailed- I he idea of the Sagarmatha National Park is the first step. Names of villages have been ;corrected according to the new map of the Royal (-co graphical Society 'Mt. Everest Region' 1 : 100,000-1975- Editor)

MUCH HAS BEEN SAID recently about the various problems facing the Himalaya in reference to the maintenance of their beauty and ecology. One of the smaller though significant problems is litter. As members of the Himalayan Club 21 of us from Australia and New Zealand, all under 20 except for our leader, Adrian Cooper, sought to do something towards improving the situation by trekking from Lamonsangu to Kala Pattar, near Everest Base Camp, and back aiming to clean up obvious garbage on the way and hopefully increase awareness of the problem among trekkers and locals. The trek lasted 35 days and we covered well over 300 miles of track. From Lamonsangu the trail heads basically eastwards through Hindu villages until the Dudh Kosi where it follows up the Dudh Kosi gorge to Namche Bazar and then further north through other Sherpa villages such as Khumjung, Tengpoche, Pangpoche and so on up to Kala Pattar.

Most of us were expecting to be confronted with mounds of trash but fortunately the problem was not as severe as we had anticipated. In fact the litter problem, along with sanitary problems in the area, was almost negligible until we had passed Lughla airstrip and begun walking up through villages like Phakdingma, Namche, Tengpoche and Lobuche. It was obvious then that as the influx of tourists grew past Lughla with many people flying in to avoid the longer approach from Lamonsangu, so did the litter and sanitary problem worsen. As more people come so will the problems become greater. It is not however only due to the carelessness of trekking parties that this is caused. Namche Bazar for instance has been introduced to the unfortunate throwaway facet of western culture induced no doubt through the flood of cast-off from mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the area. Consequently paper is blown about as freely as the dust. The most distressing and ironic problem of course, results from the trekking parties who in appreciating the beauty of the Himalaya are spoiling it. It takes away a lot of the magic of the mountains if your view is punctuated with tin cans and paper, or if following a native bird through the scrub may mean dodging clumps of foul-smelling toilet paper.

Whether or not future trekking parties choose to do anything about some of the problems they are creating, the Government is certainly considering legislation to enact upon them. Helped by an Advisory Committee largely made up of local Sherpas there are various regulations which may be introduced concerning litter, the use of firewood and so on in the parks. Litter may have to be burnt or buried. More significant to the trekker is the regulation which may prevent the use of firewood. Because of the critical firewood problem in Nepal it has been suggested that trekkers shall not be allowed to buy or sell wood or any other vegetation and be consequently required to use artificial fuel for all members including porters, for purposes of cooking, heating, lighting, etc. The problem is certainly severe enough for such legislation to be considered. Namche Bazar for instance was once called Nauche, meaning something akin to 'place of pines'. It now doesn't have a suitable tree in sight.

How successful we were in achieving our own aims is debatable. A few of the spots we cleaned were found to be as dirty as they were when we had found them as we walked back to Lamonsangu. We had our small triumphs though. In our Emu bobs we often gained the help of the local children and on one occasion even the village Head. The kitchen staff also began to get the idea, rather slowly, about the proper disposal of litter.

Our impressions of the trek were not limited to the problems of garbage, it was hard to even think about it when surrounded by such an imposing landscape and such a delightful people. There could be no more desirable place in the world to want to clean up. The diversity of the landscape is astounding, changing from dense rain-forests to dusty trails and from fertile paddy to the desolate dryness of places like Pheriche, Lobuche and Gorak Shep. And then of course there are the mountains. Tasting the excitement of standing upon Kala Pattar with the peaks of gigantic mountains, including Everest, rising above it is hard to imagine the immense exhilaration one would feel standing on the summit of Everest with the mountains bowing below you.

We could never forget the people of Nepal, especially the Sherpas with whom we had most contact. They were the rum on the Christmas pudding, and deserve the respect they have earned. They seem amongst the happiest and friendliest people in the world despite the hardship and work they are exposed to.

When we return as slightly older members of the club to the Himalaya it will be a delight to live amongst the people again and walk the trails up through the mountains which, hopefully, will be a little cleaner ; maybe !

The Leader's Report

It was agreed that reports of the rubbish situation had been exaggerated : the track was better from this point of view than the equivalent track in Australia or New Zealand. We picked up all silver paper but could not consider doing anything about much of the more easily biodegradable rubbish (biscuit wrappers, cigarette packets, etc.) which abounded mostly near the tea- shops. The culprits appear to be mainly the proprietors of these establishments.

As for camp sites, we held "emu parades" on some of the worst, among them Those, Phakdingma and Lobuche (especially the latter, where tins were scattered everywhere-these we bashed and buried). Tengpoche was not badly littered (presumably the earlier American clean-ups had alleviated the situation), but at the request of Mr Gordon Nicholls, seconded by the N. Z. Government, to co-ordinate work there on the proposed Sagarmatha National Park, we worked on an area where the lamas had been dumping a lot of rubbish.

We were impressed by the work that Mr Nicholls and the Sherpas had been doing at Tengpoche-a complex consisting of heated bunkroom, W.C. and kitchen which may be the precursor of several others throughout the Park. A Sherpa committee has been formed who have laid down regulations (not yet gazetted) governing Park users-with wide-reaching effects, notably the requirement for trekking and mountaineering groups to use gas, and to clean up rubbish to the satisfaction of the Park Wardens.

The main problems of the present1 and future appear to be the rapidly diminishing supply of timber (with consequent erosion sending tonnes of valuable soil down the streams into India), and numerous haphazard little piles of human waste which plague the camp sites (a real problem at altitude, where satisfactory disintegration only occurs during about one month a year).

The former problem is being dealt with by Park regulations such as the ones mentioned above (but Sherpas love their wood fire) and by a good re-afforestation programme already under way and apparently in good hands. But this is going to take a long time. The latter problem, together with that of disposal of rubbish is a matter of education, which will also take a long and this time. Here the trekking companies must take a lead, and this they are doing.

But it won't be easy. On our return, we found more rubbish on sites we had particularly cleaned up; at one schoolyard where we had enlisted the children (for rewards of pencils) who had enthusiastically helped clear it thoroughly, we arrived back ten days later to find it worse than ever ! But, 'Physician heal thyself'-I was cleaning up sweet papers around our own tent sites and camp fires even 011 the last week of our trek And our cooks were still tossing cans into the stream despite our frequent protests via our Sirdar.