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Sherpas to Clear Mt. Everest of Dead Climbers and Garbage

A team of Sherpas, famous for their incredible mountain climbing ability, will endure a grueling -- and some might say goulish mission -- to recover bodies of failed Mount Everest climbers.

Some 300 people have died trying to reach the 29,035-foot summit over the past 50 years. The plan is to remove at least 5 bodies from the area known as the "death zone." This is the spot just above the 26,000-foot mark where the Sherpas will make base camp. Bodies are not usually removed from this area because it is so high and treacherous.

The plan is also for the 20 Sherpas to remove garbage that hikers have left behind over the years -- some three tons worth. "We will carry empty sacks and fill them with empty oxygen bottles, food wrappings, old tents and ropes from the area," one Sherpa said.

The Nepalese government began cracking down on people leaving trash and gear behind about 15 years ago, as it became a major environmental problem. Climbers now have to bring all of their things down or risk losing their deposits. It is unclear how much trash is left on the mountain, but several clean-up expeditions have brought down tons of garbage.

Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourists in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides.

As far as timing, there is roughly a three-week period for climbing Mt. Everast that occurs in mid-May. The team of sherpas certainly won't be alone, as other climbers from around the world flock to the mountain during the window of opportunity.


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