In an effort to promote awareness about littering on Mount Everest, fifteen Nepali artists have created 75 sculptures from garbage collected on the mountain’s slopes. They spent one month crafting 1.7 tons of trash, including empty oxygen bottles, gas canisters, food cans, torn tents, ropes, crampons, plates and twisted aluminum ladders, into figures such as a yak and wind chimes.
The artwork was recently displayed at an exhibit in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
“Everest is our crown jewel in the world,” said Kripa Rana Shahi, director of the Da Mind Tree art group. “We should not take it for granted. The amount of trash there is damaging our pride.”
The 29,035-foot mountain has been scaled by nearly 4,000 people, the first being New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953. The government has several limitations and policies to ensure minimal littering on the slopes, but activists have admitted that effective monitoring is extremely difficult. Climbers have confirmed this, explaining that the mountain is covered in garbage which is buried by winter’s snow. It is exposed only in the summer, when the snow melts.
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The garbage used in the recent art exhibition was collected in 2011 and earlier this year by Sherpa climbers, porters and long-haired yaks. The yaks were recognized in some of the works, which are now on sale for prices ranging from $15 to $2,300. The proceeds will be split between the artists and the Everest Summiteers’ Association, which sponsors garbage collection from the slopes.