MYAGDI:  The base camp of Dhaulagiri, the seventh tallest mountain in the world at 8,167 metres, is bustling with mountaineers who have come to make an attempt on the summit.

Around 50 climbers from Spain, Italy, India and Japan and 100 local guides have arrived at the base camp.

On Saturday, two teams set off towards the peak. The first expedition consists of half a dozen climbers and is being handled by Seven Summit Trek. The second group is an Indian Army expedition consisting of 25 climbers.

They left base camp and began ascending towards the first high camp. After ascending high camps 1, 2, 3 and 4, mountaineers mount their summit bid.

“One can see a crowd of climbers and their helpers starting from base camp towards the first high camp,” said Indra Singh Sherchan of Seven Summit. “On Thursday, we worshipped the mountain and started our climb on Saturday.”

There is a tradition of worshipping the mountain gods to ensure a safe journey before beginning the ascent.

The first successful ascent of Dhaulagiri was made 56 years ago. Since then, around 400 mountaineers have stepped foot on the peak. Dhaulagiri is located at Mudi in Myagdi district.

Apart from the climbers, a large number of sightseers have arrived at the base camp of Dhaulagiri to do the circuit trek, one of the most challenging trekking trails in the country. Two routes lead from base camp, one to the summit and another to the circuit trail.

Along with the large number of tourists, the pile of garbage that has accumulated at the base camp has also grown. One can see the wreckage of helicopters that have crashed and materials like clothes, oxygen cylinders, bottles, utensils and plastic abandoned by climbers.

The mountain of trash has not only spoiled the natural beauty of the area but also polluted the environment, according to local tourism entrepreneurs.

“We have been speaking out against the haphazard dumping of garbage in the area for a long time,” said Hari Prasad Tilija who runs a tea house near the base camp. “But the concerned government bodies never listen to us.”

Climbers are forbidden to leave anything on the mountain, and have to submit proof upon their return that whatever garbage they have generated has been brought back and properly managed. However, mountaineers have not been complying with the law.

–  By Ghanshyam Khadka for TKP

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