Climbers are pooping all over Everest, and officials have had enough

Mountaineers and yaks at Everest base camp
Temporary toilets are set up at Everest base camp, but things soon get stinky when climbers begin their ascent (Image credit: Getty Images)

Mountaineers must now pack out their poop while climbing Everest and bring it back down with them, say Nepalese officials disgusted by conditions on the mountain.

Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, told the BBC: "Our mountains have begun to stink. We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image."

During climbing season there are temporary toilets at Everest base camp, but once people begin their ascent, very few bother to take their waste back with them. The extreme cold means that excrement doesn't break down, leading to a deeply unpleasant and stinky situation.

How to poop on Everest?

Digging a cathole is the most common method of dealing with poop on the mountain, but that's not always possible at high altitudes where the ground is rocky and there's little snow. So how can Everest mountaineers handle their business? 

Well, they could take a lesson from big wall climbers, who keep things clean and tidy by employing a 'poop tube' – essentially a plastic pipe that's closed at one end. Climbers use a biodegradable dog waste bag for their business, throw in a little kitty litter, then drop it into the tube. The tube is stored in the climber's haul bag, and emptied safely when they're back on solid ground. Our guide how do rock climbers poop goes into more extensive detail.

In many popular climbing spots, including Yosemite and Zion National Park, carrying a poop tube is mandatory, and climbers will be fined if they fail to pack one with their supplies.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.