China has closed its side of Mount Everest’s base camp, a site visited by tens of thousands of people each year, to tourists as trash piles up on the mountain, according to state media.
People with climbing permits will still be allowed to visit the site, state outlet Xinhua reported. But Chinese authorities announced in January that they would only issue 300 permits a year in a bid to deal with escalating piles of trash on the mountain.
In 2015, the most recent year in which there are figures available, 40,000 people visited the China-controlled base camp, which is in Tibet, the BBC reported, citing figures from the Chinese Mountaineering Association.
Tibetan authorities said that workers collected more than 300 tons of trash from the mountain in 2018, Sky News reported.
Nepal’s base camp can only be reached by a long climb that can take two weeks, but China’s base camp can be reached by car, making it popular with tourists. Non-climbers will no longer be able to climb above a monastery 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level.
Xinhua reported that a new “tent city” will be set up for “ordinary tourists” two kilometers away from the old camp, which will allow them to see the mountain.
Climbers will also “be required to carry out all their waste with them” in a bid to keep the mountain cleaner, Ci Luo, the director of the Chinese Mountaineering Association, said, The Telegraph reported.
The United Nations previously warned about the high amount of trash on the mountain.
Other initiatives to keep the mountain cleaner have included paying Sherpas $2 for every kilo of trash they pick up from the mountain.
Xinhua also reported in 2018 that 30,000 “porters” had been hired to clean waste from the mountain.
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