Hiker Shares Disturbing Photo at the Top of Mount Everest; People Have Turned “the Top of the World Into a Garbage Bin”

By: David Donovan | Published: Jul 10, 2024

Rather than a chance to dump your trash, spending time in a beautiful region of the world should be seen as a privilege.

A photo of a person’s experience at one of the world’s most famous locations was shared by a Redditor: the highest point of Mount Everest. 

Mountaintop Trash

They wrote in the r/interestingasf*** subreddit: “Ever Wonder What The Top Of Everest Looks Like?”

Man taking a selfie on Mount Everest showing the trash that is littered at the summit

Reddit user AnnemarieSultan

The Earth looks amazing in the background of the picture, but the pile of trash right behind the person taking the selfie takes away a lot of the beauty. 


Distracting Garbage

Numerous vibrant prayer flags appear to be scattered throughout the trash heap.

View northward of Mount Everest from an aircraft from airline company Drukair in Bhutan. The aircraft is south of the mountains, directed north. Mount Everest is above the ridge connecting Nuptse and Lhotse.

Flickr user shrimpo1967

A commenter wrote: “I mean that’s super cool, but it kinda looks like the picture was taken at a dump.”

History of Littering

Climbers have been leaving trash on the mountain for a long time. 

Mount Everest north face seen from the path to the base camp.

Wikimedia Commons user Luca Galuzzi

On top of that some choose to leave equipment behind rather than carrying it back down.

Clean Up Initiative

“All climbers scaling Mount Everest will have to bring back 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of rubbish under rules designed to clean up the world’s highest peak,” stated the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) in 2014.

Mount Everest base camp avalanche

Wikipedia user Chagai

Sadly, this issue has not yet been resolved by that rule. 


Mount Everest is welcoming more visitors than ever, with Nepal giving a record-high 463 permits to climbers in 2023, as per Earth.org. 

Sunrise of Mount Everest from Kala Pathar. Everest in the centre, Nuptse on the right, Changtse on the left.

Flickr user Sebastian Werner

However, the World’s most noteworthy point is hard to reach, making all the litter challenging to tidy up. 


Tonnes of Trash

According to a report in Geographical Magazine, there are approximately 30 tonnes (or 33 tons) of garbage on Everest.

Andreas Breitfuss on the Summit of Mt Everest 2012

Wikimedia Commons user WorldNavigata

Littering significantly affects people and the climate. 



Microplastics, for instance, have been found in snow tests from Everest, and these can be poisonous for all organic entities. 

white red yellow and blue plastic straw lot straws turning into microplastics

Unsplash user FlyD

There have been efforts made to clean up Mount Everest, but the problem is still there.


Litter Collection Efforts

Fortunately, many people care about keeping our planet litter-free in other parts of the world. 

Earth Day 2019 CleanUp at Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson, Poway, CA

Unsplash user Steve Jewett

The hours spent by volunteer groups collecting litter from parks and beaches have had a significant impact.


Nonprofit Groups

Additionally, there are nonprofit organizations that collaborate to make the world a cleaner and safer place for everyone.

Mountain of rubbish and garbage on the beach by the sea

Unsplash user antoinegiret

The garbage on Mount Everest disgusted a lot of people who commented on the Reddit post. 


Reddit Commentary

One user remarked: “People have managed to turn the top of the world into a garbage bin.”

Everest from Kalatop April 2015

Wikimedia Commons user Sumita Roy Dutta

Another Redditor stated: “Gross, we just can’t have nice things.”


Global Warming

In Nepal, at base camp, the effects of global warming can already be seen.

Namche Bazaar. Mount Everest and Lhotse seen from Syangboche Panorama Hotel.

Flickr user Guillaume Baviere

The surface of the ice lies more than 150 feet lower than where it once was 35 years ago.

At 27,000 feet the microplastics found in the snow on Mount Everest are the highest yet found on Earth.