Mount Everest was first summitted on 29 May 1953 by Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. We can be pretty sure that before this first ascent Everest was pristine in terms of garbage. Sure there might have been some evidence of earlier, failed, attempts to summit. And sure, after Hillary and Norgay’s successful summit they might have left behind a few wrappers from the famous Kendal Mint Cake that we know they were carrying, but basically they left nothing except their footprints. And actually we are pretty sure they would have burned or buried these paper wrappers at lower altitude as would have been common in those days for alpine expeditions.
Today with more and more people attempting to summit Everest they are bringing not only more team members but also more equipment and food. Whereas in the past resources such as tents, oxygen bottles, ropes, ladders etc were precious, now these are easily obtainable at reasonable prices. Many expeditions then take the view why bother to spend additional resources to bring such items back down the mountain? And of course during earlier expeditions, there were no, or very few, plastic items. Items that we now know take hundreds of years to degrade.
Next Update: December 31 2021