Mountaineering teams organize to clean up the world’s highest mountain peaks
A few months ago, gutsy French test pilot Didier Delsalle landed a helicopter on top of Mount Everest in 75 mph hour winds — no, not crashed — quite obviously the highest landing place on earth. He was the first to successfully summit Everest by copter.
And just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, he did it twice.
The previous highest helicopter landing was some 9,035 feet lower, at about 20,000 feet, the record set in 1996 by Nepalese pilot Madan Khatri Chhetri while rescuing climbers. And that’s one of the great things about this: the tangible — though still amazingly dangerous — possibility of being able to rescue mountaineers on some of the world’s highest, harshest peaks.
In recent years, international teams of eco-conscious mountaineers have organized enormously expensive expeditions to clean up some of Everest’s over-50-year legacy of trash, augmenting infrequent government Sherpa-led garbage-retrieval expeditions.
But now another team aims to clean up, at the very least, parts of the Himalayas’ 14 peaks above 8,000 meters (about 26,200 feet). This week it’s off to the earth’s 10th highest mountain, Mt. Annapurna. The high-altitude sanitation engineers also have plans in place to launch a cleanup of their own on Mt. Everest next spring.
If there was ever a job in the trash business I envied, it’s this one.