China plans major cut in number of Everest climbers

FILE - In this May 8, 2017, file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, people collect garbage at the north slope of the Mount Qomolangma in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. China announced Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 that it plans to cut the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by 1/3 this year as part of plans for a major cleanup on the world's highest peak. (Awang Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING — China will cut the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by one-third this year as part of plans for a major cleanup on the world's highest peak, state media reported Monday.

The total number of climbers seeking to summit the world's highest peak at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) from the north will be limited to less than 300 and the climbing season restricted to spring, the reports said.

The cleanup efforts will include the recovery of the bodies of climbers who died at more than 8,000 meters (26,246 feet) up the mountain, they said.

Parts of Everest are in China and Nepal. Each year, about 60,000 climbers and guides visit the Chinese north side of the mountain, which China refers to by its Tibetan name, Mount Qomolangma.

China has set up stations to sort, recycle and break down garbage from the mountain, which includes cans, plastic bags, stove equipment, tents and oxygen tanks.

On the Nepalese side, mountaineering expedition organizers have begun sending huge trash bags with climbers during the spring climbing season to collect trash that then can be winched by helicopters back to the base camp.

Everest claims multiple victims each year, often in the "death zone" above 8,000 meters (26,246 feet), where the air is too thin to sustain human life.

In 2017, 648 people summited Everest, including 202 from the north side, according to the nonprofit Himalayan Database. Six people were confirmed to have died on the mountain that year, one of them on the north side.

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