China has banned tourists ‘for an indefinite period’ from the base camp to Mount Everest amid a drive to clean up the peak.
The decision will drastically reduce visitor numbers as only 300 people with climbing passes will be allowed past a monastery just below the 5,200m camp.
China’s base camp, which is located in Tibet, attracts fewer mountaineers than the better-known site on the Nepalese side of the perilous climb.
But surging visitor numbers have left behind growing piles of camp-equipment, plastic bottles and human faeces.
More than 40,000 people tripped to China’s base camp in 2015, according to the last official figures, while some 20,000 have attempted the 8,848m-summit from there in the past eight years.
In January, Beijing cut the number of climbing passes by a third.
Sherpas collected nine-tonnes of waste from the icy slopes in 2017 and China has formed a 200-strong task-force to pick up remaining debris. Some frozen bodies have been left for years.
In a bid to prevent more littering, the director of the Chinese Mountaineering Association, Ci Luo, said that from now on climbers will “be required to carry out all their waste with them.”
The clampdown appears to clash with the construction of an ‘international mountaineering centre’ near the Tibetan base camp, which includes a hotel, museum and helipad.