Last week, Apa Sherpa made it to the summit of Mount Everest for a record-breaking 21st time. This "Super Sherpa", who now lives in Utah, has climbed for the past several years with the Eco Everest Expedition, a team with a "leave no trace" outdoor ethic dedicated to cleaning up Everest. The group has brought down over 12 tons of garbage for disposal and four human bodies for burial over the past three years.
The Eco Everest Expedition team leaves Base Camp with the standard technical climbing gear and clothes for various weather conditions. They also pack various eco-friendly hiking gear that let them climb with minimal impact. Some of their most essential items include:
1. Parabolic solar cooker
Solar cookers are shaped like a mini satellite dish and use a reflective metal to concentrate sunlight into a small cooking area. The intensity of the sunlight heats up the cooking surface and lets you warm water for coffee and cook simple foods that heat quickly. You just have to eat during the day when the sun is shining. Solar cookers range in price from $25 up to $300 but you can save some cash by building your own.
2. Solar lighting
Gone are the days of lugging around a Coleman propane lantern for light. LED technology and solar power has made it possible to pack a small light charged by the sun. Hikers can choose traditional lanterns, pocketable flashlights and even solar-powered LEDs that are built into the brim of a baseball hat. These flashlights are relatively inexpensive and can be bought for under $50.
3. Ultraviolet water-purification pen
These pocket-sized pens use ultraviolet light to rid water of harmful bacteria, virus and the dreaded Giardia. One popular brand, the Steri-pen, can purify 16 ounces of water in less than a minute. Fill your water bottle, stick in your UV pen and you will have some sweet-tasting water to quench your thirst.
4. CMC (Clean Mountain Can)
Just like bears, many hikers relieve themselves in the woods and leave behind a trail of paper flowers. Gain back some dignity with the Clean Mountain Can, the toilet of choice for eco-hikers. The small polyethylene canister is designed to hold your poo and not spill its contents. It's a very packable 2.5 pounds and is good for 10-14 uses before it needs to be emptied and cleaned. A single Clean Mountain Can will set you back a cool $69.
5. Restop bags
If you find yourself in an extreme environment and really have to go pee, you will be happy to have a Restop bag in your pack. The disposable urine bag contains absorbent material, deodorants and enzymes that process up to 20 ounces of urine at a time. They are designed to be used by men and women (don't ask for a demonstration) and have a much-needed one way valve to prevent spillage. Each bag will cost you about $2-$3.