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Everest rubbish reaches new heights in art

posted 26 Nov 2012, 05:32 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Nov 2012, 05:32 ]

Nepali artists turn rubbish collected from Mount Everest into pieces of art, hoping to spread awareness about keeping the mountain clean.

MOUNT EVERESTNEPAL  (REUTERS) - Nearly 4,000 people have climbed the 8,850 metre-high (29,035 feet) Mount Everest, many of them several times, since it was first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

Although climbers need to deposit $4,000, U.S., with the government, which is refunded only after they provide proof of having brought the garbage generated by them from the mountain, activists say effective monitoring is difficult.

Climbers returning from the mountain say its slopes are littered with trash which is buried under the snow during the winter and comes out in the summer when the snow melts.

The trash used in the art works was picked up from the mountain by Sherpa climbers in 2011 earlier this year and carried down by porters and trains of long-haired yaks.

Fifteen Nepali artists were closeted for a month with a heap of 1.5 tonnes of trash picked up from Mount Everest.

"Previously the garbage collected from the Everest region used to be dumped at the municipality dumping site. With the help of various artists, now, the garbage collected from the Everest region has been transformed to souvenirs. Today, those souvenirs are attracting both locals and foreigners," Secretary General of Everest Summiteers Association, Diwas Pokhrel said.

The 75 sculptures, including one of a yak and another of wind chimes, were made from empty oxygen bottles, gas canisters, food cans, torn tents, ropes, crampons, boots, plates, twisted aluminium ladders and torn plastic bags dumped by climbers over decades on the slopes of the world's highest mountain.

The yaks were commemorated in one work. For another, empty oxygen cylinders were mounted on a metal frame to make Buddhist prayer wheels.

"Upcycling is something when you take waste and when it gets upcycled it never turns into waste again," project videographer Murtaza Shah said.

Kripa Rana Shahi, director of art group Da Mind Tree, said the sculpting and recent exhibition in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, was aimed at spreading awareness about keeping Mount Everest clean.

"The Mount Everest 8848 Art Project is all about bringing environmental awareness not only at local and national level but internationally as well," she said.

Visitors said they were amazed at the way waste products were turned into useful items.

"I found it really interesting that it was waste from Mount Everest which was used to make art works," said art student Pradhi Rana.

The art is on sale for prices from $15 U.S. to $2,300 U.S., with part of the proceeds going to the artists and the rest to the Everest Summiteers' Association (ESA), which sponsored the collection of garbage from the mountain, organisers said.