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Volunteers to clean up Mount Qomolangma
Updated: 2005-05-23 23:26

A team of nearly 100 Chinese climbers and environment protection volunteers left Lhasa on Monday on a mission to clean up Mount Qomolangma at an altitude of 5,120 to 8, 000 meters.

The volunteers pose for photograph before the Potala Palace in Lhasa. [newsphoto]
The team is scheduled to broom garbage on May 29 and will send the trash to Lhasa on June 5 -- the World Environment Day -- for pollution-free disposal by the local government, said a source with the Sports Bureau in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

The bureau has co-sponsored the expedition, known as the "2005 Great Environmental Action at the Third Polar of the Earth", with a Beijing-based sports and culture company.

The action is designed to last for five years between 2004 and 2008 and includes a massive clean-up of the Qomolangma every year. Last summer, Tibetan mountaineers and 24 volunteers finished the first stage of the project, which removed eight tons of trash left between 5,120 to 6,500 meters above sea level.

Experts say about 600 tons of waste had been strewn across the world's highest mountain by climbers and sightseers since 1921, mostly on its northern pass, or the Chinese part of the Mountain that also borders Nepal.

The clean-up comes as a team of Chinese surveyors are working their way to the summit to remeasure its height. The survey was meant to assess the precise height of the ever-growing peak and track the expansion and retreat of its glaciers.

The 8,848-meter Qomolangma, in the Himalayas, attracts a large number of mountain climbers, both professionals and amateurs. So far, some 1,600 people have scaled the peak, while about 200 have died on its slopes.

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