Kanchha Sherpa, the lone survivor of the historic 1953 Mount Everest summit team that included Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, has raised his voice against the overcrowding and pollution on the world’s highest peak.

Kanchha Sherpa, 91, is a living legend and a member of the original expedition that conquered Everest. The nonagenarian believes the sacred mountain deserves the utmost respect. He emphasised the spiritual significance of Mount Everest, known as Qomolangma, to the Sherpa people, referring to it as the goddess mother of the world.

“It is disheartening to witness the current state of Mount Everest. It is our biggest god, and climbers must show the utmost respect,” Kanchha Sherpa stated, pointing to the increasing number of climbers each year.

Despite the significant surge in climbers, authorities have not announced plans to limit the number of permits issued. In the spring season of 2023 alone, 667 climbers scaled the peak, accompanied by thousands of support staff. Kanchha Sherpa stressed the need for a reduction in the number of climbers to preserve the sanctity of the mountain and protect it from pollution.

The climbers are required to bring down all their belongings, including rubbish and equipment. However, there has been a noticeable lapse in monitoring and enforcement. This has resulted in substantial litter on the mountain, as some climbers dump trash in crevasses, which eventually flow down to the base camp as the snow melts.

Kanchha Sherpa expressed dismay at the litter left behind, including tins and wrappers. He highlighted the long-term consequences of such actions, as the trash hidden in crevasses becomes visible and problematic when it descends with melting snow.

Kanchha Sherpa, now a family man residing in Namche, a village in the Everest foothills, runs a small hotel catering to trekkers and climbers. Recalling the historic 1953 expedition, he shared memories of celebrating the successful ascent with tea and snacks at camp two upon reuniting with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

The route established by their team from the base camp to the summit is still in use today, with only the section from the base camp to camp one changing annually due to the unstable Khumbu icefall. As the guardian of Everest’s legacy, Kanchha Sherpa calls for immediate action to ensure the preservation of Mount Everest for future generations.