Picking up trash on Mount Everest

Would you climb 8,848 meters t rolex watches for sale o pick up other people’s waste, discarded climbing gear and even the occasional dead body? This is what the Eco Everest Expedition sets out to do every year.

Professional mountain climbers like the Everest base camp about as much as hermits enjoy Oktoberfest. There are hundreds of tents at 5,600 meters altitude it’s noisy and full of people.

Garbage is a hot topic here, at the base the world’s highest mountain. Paul Thelen has been here twice, and knows the situation. “You’re surrounded by filth,” he says over the phone, without the faintest trace of irritation or repugnance in his voice. Then again, as an active 68 year old, Thelen has seen a lot in life.

He and a friend, Eberhard Schaaf, a mountain climber like himself, have come to Nepal to clean up garbage. The men are part of the annual Eco Everest Expedition (EEE) that has been clearing trash from the camp and the path to the top of the mountain since 2008. So far, t rolex watches for sale hese expeditions have collected over 13 tons of garbage, including several hundred kilos of excrement and a rolex watches for sale few corpses.

Thelen and Schaaf are the first Germans to take part in the expedition, which this year is made up of 16 climbers from seven countries. They will be on site until the end of May. And they want to get to the top all 8,848 meters of it.

It’s a dangerous endeavor. The Germans say they have two goals: to climb up and then to come back down. Both goals are difficult in themselves, but luckily one of their sponsors is Doppelherz, a manufacturer of energy tonics for seniors.


Thelen, a management consultant from the German spa town of Aachen, says he has been dreaming about mountains since he read books about the Everest as a teenager. He’s only been climbing very high mountains for a few years, though. Before that, he mostly stuck to marathons. With Eberhard Schaaf, a sports physician who is also from Aachen, he’s climbed the Kilimanjaro (5,893 meters), Mount McKinley (6,194 meters), and in 2009 he made it up to the top of Argentina’s Aconcagua ( rolex watches for sale 6,962 meters).

Thelen calls them their “practice mountains.” For Everest, he and Schaat trained intensively for a year, rope climbing at an ice rink, choosing stairs over elevators, generally toughening up. Not to be underestimated was the mental preparation, which can be half the battle, Thelen adds.

The expedition, as is the norm on Everest, is going to set up four camps that expedition members will climb up to several times to get used to the altitude and learn the way. Both they and Sherpas carry food and equipment up to the third camp at 7,200 meters, then climb down with empty backpacks.

They also carry sturdy nylon sacks that can be filled with 10 to 12 kilos of garbage including old tents, tent poles, fabric scraps, which are all frozen solid. All this equipment has been left by hundreds of climbers.

Most of the garbage has been there since the 1990s, when the boom in tourist expeditions began. And as global warming is also making the famous and dangerous Khumbu Glacier melt, even more detritus is appearing. The EEE has even found tin cans dating from 1962.

Everest has been climbed over 5,000 times, 80% of which since 2000. The mountain, which in Tibetan is known as the Mother of the Universe, has been dubbed the “highest garbage dump in the world.” Thelen says, however, that the situation is improving. A lot of trash has been removed, and new expeditions are more environmentally savvy.

It goes without saying that Thelen and Schaaf leave nothing behind, and use renewable energy and a heavy parabolic cooker instead of the lighter kerosene burner.

Taking your garbage down with you can mean life or death

Thelen understands why climbers leave so much refuse. “On Everest, after a certain altitude you devote your strength to climbing or coming down safely. You are totally preoccupied with that, nothing else.” Empty oxygen bottles are heavy, tents are often totaled by storms or snow, and climbers often just don’t have the strength to schlep them along.

The “death zone,” where climbers lose strength even if they are not exerting themselves, begins at 7,000 meters. Here, dawdling brings certain death. It is not uncommon for climbers to die of exhaustion in 2006 alone, 11 climbers died. And most are left where they died.

A major problem is human waste. At the base camp there are toilet tents, and the toilets are regularly emptied. At higher altitudes “clean mountain cans” (CMC) are used. CMC’s have bags inside them that are emptied every two or three days. If the “death zone” has any positives, it’s that at that height human digestion slows down to virtual standstill so the members of the expedition don’t have to go that high to pick up waste.

This expedition is probably not going to be taking any corpses down the mountain, although past expeditions have. Until a few years ago, there were cadavers along the route and climbers had to pass them on the way down, in extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances, particularly through the Khumbu Icefall where narrow ladders are used.

Thelen says he doesn’t feel fear just respect. Here, people are just “fly droppings” he says: he would never speak of “conquering” a mountain. Without passion and absolute belief in its success, you might as well not bother, he says. Until 2007 only every fifth attempt to reach the top was successful: the number has gone up since. By the end of 2010, 3,100 people had made it to the top. Thelen and Schaat hope to be among the climbers adding to that number.

Picking up the pieces

on a clear, crisp Sunday morning. The so called section of the city around Queen University campus is deserted, save for a few bleary eyed partiers feeling their way home from Homecoming II shakers.

At the corner of Aberdeen and William streets, a tomcat, his night of prowling and feline infidelity behind him, nibbles on a slab of sausage, eschewing a nearby pizza crust. A moment later, the tom, distracted by a four legged intruder, hisses threateningly before putting the run on the competitor.

Not far away, Donald Patterson, raw boned and one eyed, starts for home with an industrial sized garbage bag wedged inside a hand pulled shopping cart, his shivering shift in the out of doors finished.

headed down here around two in the morning, he says in a cheerful way that belies his plight.

is my second trip, he continues, patting the bulging bag of bottles and beer cans, the fruits of his overnight labour. got about $14 in here. I use it to do laundry and buy food. I got $3 (worth) on my first trip, but that was earlier in the night after I visited a friend in the hospital. There weren too many people out because it was raining awfully hard, too. 46, walked home in that driving rain, a good half hour stroll.

Respectful of people and property, he waits until the revelry stops before descending on an area and never ventures onto a stoop or veranda to retrieve a 10 cent prize. His hunting grounds are the abandoned streets, sidewalks and front lawns of the ghetto.

The police leave him alone as do residents, for the most part anyway. Ditto for the crew from the Students Maintenance and Resource Team (SMART), the AMS rolex watches for sale driven community cleanup service.

make a huge difference, SMART manager Michael Mooney says of the sprinkling of bottle/can pickers. Mooney mixed crew of staff and volunteers picked enough refuse on the morning after to fill a dumpster down from two dumpsters following Homecoming Part I a fortnight ago. pick up broken glass, red plastic cups, fo rolex watches for sale od, garbage, those types of things. We leave any cans and unbroken bottles because they be gone in no time. souls such as Patterson and SMART volunteers are the unsung of Homecoming, picking up cans and bottles and helping to return the neighbourhood to some semblance of beauty, such as it is.

Patterson tells a listener he was born in Smiths Falls, the only boy among five children born to an electrician and his wife. Indications are that he had a hard life, hampered by self indulgence, circumstance and vices. To his credit, he faults no one but himself, no blame levelled at a system for failing him, although it almost surely did at some point.

haven had a drink in a year, a year ago last September, he says. allergic to alcohol. I break out in he adds wryly, upturned wrists held out. Without being asked, he offers that he has spent a few nights a drunk tank but that it, rap sheet wise.

The recyclables augment his income from a disability pension of a little over $1,000 a month. can stand on a corner and ask for money, that just not me, he says in a dignified manner, adding: certainly don put anyone down who does that, but it not who I am. biggest haul were the three big bags scooped up in the wee hours of a morning during Frosh Week. commercial garbage bag holds 300 cans, he points out. $30 a load. treks several kilometres with each bundle and ignores the slights and slurs from schmucks who ought to know better.

been told I stink a lot, been told to get a job. Well, this is my job. That OK. I can put up with a few crude remarks, they nothing compared to what Jesus had to put up with.

don go to church, he adds, I believe. I consider my walks quality time with Him. he currently has a roof over his head, that hasn always been the case and, who knows, may again be the situation in the future. He is unfazed by the prospect. I need is a sleeping bag and a tarp and I good to go, he notes, smiling. I own I can fit in a duffel bag. newspaperman, en route to early mass on Sunday, slips him a sawbuck earmarked for the collection plate rolex watches for sale at St. John the Apostle rolex watches for sale . The man begrudgingly accepts it, but only after some persuasive urging.

A couple of hours later, when the two meet up to finish the interview, Patterson comes clean.

was a time when I use the $10 to buy a gram of pot, he says. now. This $10 bought me milk and a box of cereal. happened to the eye? he asked.

Picking Up The City Along With Stale Bread

Trash Worker Who Quit Fires Into Boss’ Empty Van The Clifton Heights Man Had Resigned After Having Friction With His Supervisor. He Fled To Upper Darby.

September 18, 1996

Unlocking The Past In Manayunk Canal Amid Boutiques, This Symbol Of A Vital Industrial Past Lies Fallow. A City Grant Aims To Change That. and the stench isn’t too bad yet. Brian Purnel rolex watches for sale l is flinging garbage bags into the hopper of the truck with the same accuracy that Dr. J showed flinging basketballs through hoops. Only Dr. J got $1.5 million a year, and Brian Purnell earns $18,000 a year.

Purnell, 26, hits one from 10 feet out. He pulls a handle. The bag disappears into the maw of the hopper, where a big blade descends with enough power to flatten a refrigerator into something shaped like a two by four.

Purnell walks behind the truck like a soldier following a tank to battle, and, in fact, collecting trash and garbage in a place like Philadelphia is a battle. A battle that is largely won, if seldom acknowledged, because the carnage is great and constant.

As he stops for a load, he explains the difference between trash and garbage.

“Garbage is food,” says Purnell. “Trash isn’t food. It’s supposed to be packed in separate bags neatly, but it’s never neatly. I don’t know why. I don’t think they care.” He says this in a detached sort of way, without anger. Two years he’s been picking up the most disgusting things human beings can produce. Nothing has changed. What are you going to do beat people up

because they don’t tie their bags?

Next to Brian Purnell is Hattie Lane, 50, almost 51. Around her middle she wears a leather weightlifter’s belt to keep from popping a hernia. How strong is she? Lane, usually reserved, stops what she’s doing, pulls up the sleeve on her blue work shirt, and flexes a biceps. There’s not much there. You wonder how she does it.

It is the beginning of their toughest day a Monday in one of the toughest parts of their route in Southwest Philadelphia. In a few hours, the temperature will exceed 100 degrees, and the smell will make you wish you had a sinus condition.

Hattie Lane and Brian Purnell are the grunts of sanitation work. The garbage they get is the worst, and it isn’t gift wrapped. During the course of a day, the bags and boxes they touch contain more than j rolex watches for sale ust eggshells, coffee grounds and grapefruit skins. How about a bag containing a live rat? Zillions of maggots? A junkie’s needle that might have the AIDS virus on it? There are acid, cockroaches, broken bottles, nails, battery acid. Stuff that will wreck your back, make you sick or give you cancer if you touch enough of it.

On this day, Hattie Lane and Brian Purnell will pick up two truckloads’ worth of trash and garbage. Each load will weigh seven tons. Over a year, they

average 10 tons a day. In one year, then, skinny Hattie Lane and accuracy shooter Brian Purnell and their driver, Robert Johnson, will relieve the people on their route of 5.2 million pounds of waste.

For this, they are pretty much faceless and nameless people. The stuff is neat, tied up, in cans and loaded wi rolex watches for sale th treasure. People in the Northeast buy a lot of things. When they do, they put the old stuff in the trash.

So if you’re a sanitation worker in the Northeast and you need furniture, a suit, a TV, you name it, all you have to do is wait. Eventually you’ll find it on the curb. Down in Southwest Philadelphia, where Hattie Lane and Brian Purnell work, the stuff is about as used up as stuff gets, because the people down there live close to the edge of no tomorrow.

On a block that shall remain anonymous because somebody stole the street signs, Lane picks up a box, unglued rolex watches for sale by the previous night’s rain, full of LP records scratched to death, worn out children’s clothes and unidentifiable food. Swish. Into the hopper it goes, and behind it a plastic bag clawed full of holes, from which drips some unknown liquid.

At the next stop, on the curb, are two chairs, a pile of untied lumber, a refrigerator and a destroyed table. Like some stupid alligator, the hopper eats it all.