The time spent at Everest Base Camp (although cold!) was an unbelievable experience for everyone. We were even lucky enough to see a temporary photo exhibit titled “Rivers of Ice – Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya” in one of the tents. The exhibit was sponsored by the Richard D. Bass Foundation and is a collection of photographs by the talented David Breashears, alongside archival photographs taken over the past century by some of the worlds greatest mountain photographers. The comparison of the black and white archive material recaptured by David demonstrates the dramatic loss of ice during the last decades, and is a great example of someone using his art to educate and bring awareness about the effects of global climate change.
(For more information email
ER - 01 - Decending Glacier 2010_05_03.JPG
With the clean up finished, it was time at last to turn around and start descending down the stunning pathways of the Himalaya. Our first stop after Base Camp was Lobuche, 7 km further down and 450 meters lower in altitude. Then from there, we took one of the most amazing pathways we have taken so far, which made us all feel like we were walking along the sky on the mountains edge to Pangboche.
ER - 02 - Skywalk Way 2010_05_03.JPG
But even the most breathtaking scenery doesn’t deter litterers from dropping trash like Coke bottles and tobacco packets along the way. Thankfully everyone continued to fill up their sacks leaving an even more pristine pathway behind.
ER - 03 - Picking up Rubbish 2010_05_03.JPG
When we did arrive in Pangboche, after the 12 km trek up and down the mountain sides, we were very excited to see that our guest house, which was situated on one of the highest points of the town, had a stunning view of both Mt Kantega and Ama Dablam. But one building that was even higher in altitude than the guest house – the local school, which was overlooking the whole village.
ER - 04 - Pangbouche School 2010_05_03.JPG
Pangboche school, like many other schools in the region, is independently funded through the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation. At the time of our visit, it was still under construction. Dario and Sabine organised a presentation, so the following day we walked up the steep path to the top of the hill and met the approximately 30 students who studied there, varying in age from 3 to 12. As tradition demanded, we started the presentation with a Swiss song, which was enthusiastically met with a beautiful musical Nepali reply from the class!
ER - 05 - School 2010_05_03.JPG
ER - 06 - Salin 2010_05_03a.JPG
After the drawing contest, a competition was made with the aim to collect as much garbage as possible, and the classes were split into teams. The eager children clutched their sacks and ran outside to clear away the bounty of plastic, empty cans and bottles from their Rhododendron woodland environment. We were so proud and impressed at the mentality and positive attitude of the students, congratulations to everyone involved!
ER - 06a - Clean Up 2010_05_03.jpg
ER - 06b - Clean Up Group 2010_05_03.JPG
So, after the 2 days spent in the clouds of Pangboche, we continued on, this time to the little village of Phortse Thanga, tucked cosily in between the valley by the cold river. Decorated with Rhododendrons, Blossoms, Iris flowers and something which in Nepali is called “Tangyum”, we finally felt like we had stepped off the ice and snow back into the more habitual land of the lower altitudes. But not for too long, the next day we climbed up the other side of the valley, back to the familiar town of Khumjung, which resides at 3780 m in altitude.
ER - 07 - Flowers 2010_05_03.JPG
In contrast to Pangboche, the school in Khumjung is well established and has over 300 students, many of them living there. A presentation was given, and well installed electricity and a projector allowed the students to share in the journey of the TOPtoTOP expedition so far.
ER - 08 - Khumjung SChool 2010_05_03.JPG
ER - 08a - Khumjung 2010_05_03.JPG
A clean up was also performed by the mass of children, this time including high school students up to 16 /17 years old. In no time at all their bags were full and the garbage was cleared from their playground and surroundings.
ER - 09 - Cleanup 2010_05_03.JPG
The most enthusiastic class was awarded with some new pencils and writing materials donated by two of the volunteers (Vreni and Margrit) and their family back home in Switzerland. Thanks guys!
ER - 10 - Award 2010_05_03.JPG
The TOPtoTOP project and presentation really helped to raise garbage awareness, and helped the students learn not only about the sustainability of their natural environment but the sustainability of the tourism industry on which the town certainly is dependent on to a relevant degree.
ER - 11 - Future 2010_05_03.JPG
Again, thanks to everyone involved with the project here in Khumjung and the continuing clean up from Everest Base Camp through the Khumbu Valley and beyond. We continued to meet an amazing number of inspiring people along the way who are interested in the goals of the expedition, including a pair of passionate students studying sustainability of the environment and community development in the Himalaya region. We wish you both the best of luck in your studies and look forward to hearing your solutions for what lies ahead.
And once again, we must thank our sponsors who have made this entire Everest Clean Up Expedition possible. The ongoing support of SGS & Victorinox, along with Mammut, and our other friends at Heimgartner Fahnen, Megasol and Katadyn is invaluable. The impact the expedition has had on the locals and communities in the Himalaya region is viable only by the impact of the generous support from our sponsors. So thank you once more!
All the best for now,
the TOPtoTOP team 2010.