From trash to treasure: Everest litter becomes art

Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:04pm EST
 

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Fifteen Nepali artists were closeted for a month with a heap of 1.5 metric tons (1.7 tons) of trash picked up from Mount Everest. When they emerged, they had transformed the litter into art.

The 75 sculptures, including one of a yak and another of wind chimes, were made from empty oxygen bottles, gas canisters, food cans, torn tents, ropes, crampons, boots, plates, twisted aluminum ladders and torn plastic bags dumped by climbers over decades on the slopes of the world's highest mountain.

Kripa Rana Shahi, director of art group Da Mind Tree, said the sculpting - and a resulting recent exhibition in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu - was aimed at spreading awareness about keeping Mount Everest clean.

"Everest is our crown jewel in the world," Shahi said. "We should not take it for granted. The amount of trash there is damaging our pride."

Nearly 4,000 people have climbed the 8,850 meter-high (29,035 feet) Mount Everest, many of them several times, since it was first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

Although climbers need to deposit $4,000 with the government, which is refunded only after they provide proof of having brought the garbage generated by them from the mountain, activists say effective monitoring is difficult.

Climbers returning from the mountain say its slopes are littered with trash which is buried under the snow during the winter and comes out in the summer when the snow melts.

The trash used in the art works was picked up from the mountain by Sherpa climbers in 2011 and earlier this year and carried down by porters and trains of long-haired yaks.   Continued...

 
Art made from trash picked from Mount Everest are pictured at a visual art symposium in Kathmandu November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer