Last month Pakistan’s highest mountain peak — and the second highest in the world — K2 made headlines for having its busiest season yet. More than 200 permits were issued this season, and many world records were set, a lot of them notably by women. But now, Pakistani mountaineers are pointing out the negative externality of a busy mountain climbing season: litter, and a lot of it.
A mountaineer who goes by The Northerner on Twitter recently shared footage from the mountain, showing the surface studded with yellow tents from abandoned camps, blue oxygen tanks and Sherpa ropes.
In his tweet he said that the commercial climbing approach is turning K2 into a ‘dumpster mountain’, adding that every single client brings along two support staff members who have to bring their own additional oxygen tanks, tents, food and leave behind human waste. “For sustainable tourism and environment we request ban on commercial outfit and keep it only for ‘purists’,” he said.
We request auth & @GovtofPakistan @GovtofGB @csgbpk for immediate efforts for most fragile mountain glaciers & Eco System and ban all types of commerical expeditions which offers clients summit at all cost with dozens of oxygen, Sherpa support & fixed ropes . #KeepK2Clean
— The Northerner (@northerner_the) August 23, 2022
He further tagged the Twitter accounts of the federal government as well as the provincial government of Gilgit Baltistan, and requested them for immediate action to preserve the fragile mountain eco-system and glaciers by banning commercial expeditions.
Other mountaineers have also pointed out the growing amount of litter on the mountain, pointing out that not only is it disastrous for the environment and an eye-sore, it is also hazardous as leftover ropes make it difficult to know which ropes are still active and safe to use.
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A mountain permit for K2 also costs less than a permit for Mount Everest, which is less technically difficult to traverse than K2, despite being higher. A permit for Mount Everest costs $11,000 per person, whereas permits for K2 only cost $7,200 for a group of seven people. This makes the mountain a more cost effective option but it also increases the foot traffic while not earning as much revenue which could be used for de-littering projects. Additionally, a higher priced permit would also act as a deterrent and help make sure only serious mountaineers attempt to scale the magnificent mountain.