Cleaning up Baltoro’s base camps – including K2, Broad Peak
The Alpine Club of Pakistan has launched a cleaning operation to retrieve garbage from base camps along the Baltoro glacier – the most visited in the Karakorum. The Baltoro trek is the most popular walking route in the country, and also K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrums’ base camps are near the Baltoro.
The measure comes after many trekkers and climbers have complained (during the briefing and debriefing sessions with Pakistan authorities) about large amounts of rubbish and pollution in the Baltoro camps. Executive Members of the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) attending those sessions thus have taken the initiative, launching the cleaning campaign.
In a press release, the ACP states that “visiting mountaineering expeditions and trekking parties accompanied by large number of local porters on the Baltoro glacier, especially during previous and current year, has resulted in large accumulation of waste in the various camping areas on the glacier.”
Before winter comes over
“The returning visitors to the area are reporting increased deposits of garbage and human body waste lying on these glacier camps, which besides seriously damaging the local ecology, are becoming a hazard to the visitors health,” they report.
“As the climbing and trekking season is nearly ending there is an urgent need to undertake a clean up operation to clean and carry back the garbage out of the area before the onset of fresh snow which may shroud the pollutants.”
“The 62 km long Baltoro glacier is the jewel of Karakorum. Situated about 120 km Northeast of Skardu, houses four peaks rising above 8000 meters including K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrums, as well as many other high and challenging mountains. The area is frequented by large number of mountaineers and trekkers each year, and during the current year over 70 mountaineering expeditions and about 2400 trekkers have visited the Baltoro glacier so far this year.”
According to Saltoro Summits outfitter, this year 83 climbing expeditions visited the northern regions of Pakistan. Among them, over 70 climbed int the Baltoro area. 147 groups of trekkers also visited the northern areas, specially Baltoro Glacier.
ACP leaders and local porters
“The Baltoro Clean Up Expedition started on September 10th, and it is expected to last until the first week of Oct 2005. Local porters will clean up camps on the Baltoro glacier, including main Base camps of K2, Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums. The team will collect all burnable and non burnable garbage to include packing tins, cartons, polythene bags, food stuff etc and carry it out of the area for its correct disposal below Askole – the last village enroute to Baltoro glacier.”
“The expedition is being led by Mr MH Muzzaffar Faizi ACP Executive Council member. Other members include Mr Wazir Jaffar Shigri - ACP Representative at Skardu, and Nisar Hussain. The expedition is being financed by ACP from its own financial resources, whereas Ministry of Tourism has promised to contribute towards funding of this clean up effort – an important matter affecting mountain tourism in the Northern Areas.”
Environmental fees and bonds
The fact is, climbing expeditions are supposed to leave no garbage on the mountain. Moreover, there are official rules on the subject, available at ACP’s website.
Among them, it is stated that all climbing teams have to pay an environmental fee of $200 USD (per team) and a $1000 USD bond – refundable at the end of the expedition, as long as no team member has caused any damage to the environment. The Liaison Officer (L.O.) is responsible to check the proper fulfillment of the rules.
Trekking groups must also have a local guide with them, but there is no mention of an environmental fee - all trekkers shall pay a trekking fee of $50 USD.
Check the background information below for the environment-related rules for climbers in the Pakistan mountains. For the complete regulation, check the ACP link on the left.
Environmental Care Code (epigraph 16th, ACP’s Mountain regulations)
96. It is imperative to keep the mountains clean. Instructions contained in the subsequent paragraphs on the subject shall be strictly observed.
97. Every mountaineering party irrespective of its size shall contribute US $ 200/- or equivalent in Pakistan currency for Environment Protection Fund. The Head of Account for depositing this contribution is “Receipt of Tourism Division 130000-139000”. This could be deposited by expeditions after their arrival in Pakistan in the State Bank of Pakistan or in the authorized branch of national Bank of Pakistan.
98. Mountaineering parties shall also deposit refundable amount of US$ 1000/-or equivalent in Pakistani currency in the authorized bank in Pakistan. The amount would subject to forfeiture in full or in part thereof in case the expedition or any of its members causes damage to environment.
99. A party shall leave a camping site clean. On return, a L.O. shall furnish a certificate that this condition has been fully compiled with by a party.
100. A party or its porters shall not damage the forest or animal wealth of the area. On return, a L.O. shall furnish a certificate that this condition has also been fully complied with by a party.
101. In case it is established that a certain liaison officer gave false certificate, the matter would be brought to the notice of his detailing authority who would proceed against him/her under the laid down rules on the subject. In case of a Civilian Liaison Officer or guide his/her registration would be cancelled and he/she would be disqualified as a guide for a period of four years.
102. In case of breach of these rules (paragraphs 1-101), a party or all the members of such a party shall be disqualified for any further mountaineering expedition to Pakistan for a period of four years. In addition to this they may also be proceeded against under the relevant laws.
Source: Alpine Club of Pakistan
Autor: Alpine Club of Pakistan
Further information at: http://www.alpineclub.org.pk/