*Sample text, below, copied from this Washington Post story.*
When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953, it was arguably the loneliest place on Earth — an oxygen-deprived desert perched atop an icy, 29,000-foot ladder of death.
Over the last 62 years, more than 4,000 climbers have replicated the pair’s feat, with hundreds more attempting to do so during the two-month climbing season each spring, according to the Associated Press.
Along the way, people have left oxygen canisters, broken climbing equipment, trash, human waste and even dead bodies in their wake, transforming the once pristine peak into a literal pile of … well, you get the idea.
“The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps,” mountaineer Mark Jenkins wrote in a 2013 National Geographic article on Everest.
This week, Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.
At base camp, the Associated Press reported, climbers have access to toilet tents with drums that are carried to lower areas and properly disposed once they are full.
“Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” Tshering told the AP, noting that the waste has been “piling up” for years around the four camps, where climbers spend weeks acclimatizing to the high altitude without access to toilets.