A record-holding Sherpa guide concerned about garbage on higher camps on Mount Everest

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — One of the greatest Mount Everest guides on Wednesday expressed concerns about the peak’s growing piles of garbage, as he was honored by his government to mark Everest Day.

Sherpa guide Kami Rita, who has scaled Mount Everest a record 30 times, was honored by Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in Kathmandu on the anniversary of the first successful summit by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

Kami Rita said he was deeply worried by the accumulation of garbage that’s been surfacing as ice and snow melt from the peak.

“It is very necessary to immediately direct our attention to this,” he said, adding that Everest Day should really be celebrated by government funding campaigns to clean up the camps near the summit.

There have been clean up campaigns on the mountain almost every year. A team of Nepali soldiers were still on the mountain picking up trash left behind by previous expeditions.

“At the moment, not enough garbage has been taken out from Camp 3 or 4,” Kami Rita said. “There had been cleanup campaigns but all of that have been for either Camp 2 or below.”

Kami Rita also said Sherpa guides working on the mountain should have better conditions and benefits.

“There needs to be increased amount of insurance up to 6,000,000 rupees ($45,000) and there should be a provident fund,” he said.

The 54-year-old guide had scaled the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak twice this month, breaking his own record for the most successful climbs.

His closest competitor is fellow Sherpa guide Pasang Dawa, who has 27 successful ascents.

Kami Rita first climbed Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since. He is one of many Sherpa guides whose expertise and skills are vital to the safety and success each year of foreign climbers aspiring to stand on top of the world.

His father was among the first Sherpa mountain guides. In addition to his Everest climbs, Kami Rita has scaled several other peaks that are among the world’s highest, including K2, Cho Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse.

Several climbers and people in the community were honored alongside Kami Rita.

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