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Mountain glaciers, like those of the Alps or Himalayas, provide 800 million people downstream with freshwater for everyday irrigation, hydropower and drinking, and serve as some of the most important and visible indicators for climate change. At extreme altitudes, these glaciers along the mountain’s surface are thinning, in addition to having accumulated decades of waste that has been left behind.
To help preserve these at-risk alpine environments, the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation organizes critical projects around the world. Recent clean-up initiatives led by environmental activist and mountaineer Dawa Steven Sherpa, have collected two tons of waste between Everest base camp and its peak at 8,846.86 meters high (2019) in an inaugural expedition, followed by the “8x8000m” initiative (2020-2021), which aims to clean the base camps of eight 8,000-meter Himalayan mountains in support of local communities to restore the landscape in which they live.
The “8x8000m” Pledge
The Bally Peak Outlook Foundation embarked on the first phase of its “8x8000m” pledge to clean up the base camps of eight 8,000-meter Himalayan mountains in fall 2020. The 47-day expedition, led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, traveled West to East, removing 2.2 tons of waste from the base camps of Cho Oyu (8,188m), Everest (8,848m), Lhotse (8,516m) and Makalu (8,485m), while utilizing alternate routes since official trails were closed due to Covid-19. Decades of accumulated waste, including old tin cans, broken tents and wooden crates were collected, separated, classified and transferred to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee. Batteries and other toxic material were sent to the Kathmandu Metropolitan Office for safe disposal.
Providing critical income for local communities in the Himalayan region who were devastated by the effects of the global pandemic, the “8x8000m” expedition employed professional climbers, cleaners, sorters, packers, porters, as well as dedicated support teams on the ground at each base camp. The second phase of the “8x8000m” expedition will take place throughout 2021, when teams will clean up the base camps of Kanchenjunga (8,586m), Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Manaslu (8,156m), Annapurna (8,091m), as well as Everest for a third time.
Celebrating Local Voices
Due to the demanding terrain, most of the Bally Peak Outlook expeditions to the Himalayas, including the “8x8000m” team, are composed of ethnic Sherpa, whose unique genetic pathways allow them to live and work in extreme mountain environments. To highlight the Himalayan Sherpa community, Bally commissioned a series of short documentary films dedicated to the first four majestic mountain peaks of the “8x8000m” pledge.
Narrated by the people who are an intrinsic part of everyday life in the Himalayas, these local voices include Yankila Sherpa, a trailblazing travel entrepreneur and women’s rights activist from Olangchung Gola, Naga Dorjee Sherpa, a prominent expedition Sirdar, or leader to the younger generation, from Khumjung village, expedition leader Dawa Steven Sherpa, who is a passionate environmental activist and tourism entrepreneur from Kathmandu, and Jamling Tenzing Norgay, renowned climber and son of Tenzing Norgay, based in Darjeeling.