If you do the math it is not hard to see that it all adds up to one very large mess in about 15 to 25 years.
1,500 climbers/year + Solid waste being thrown in crevasses for far too long = 130,000 pounds of s%!t melting out the other end of the glacier at some point?
This article I found on line stated "According to a new study, the waste from previous generations of climbers will begin reemerging farther down the glacier a few decades from now. And that reality threatens to transform the pristine quality of the National Park’s wilderness area."
The article goes onto say:
So in 2007, Loso began a research expedition on the West Buttress Route, the most popular way to climb Denali. And the answer he found to that "when" question is surprisingly soon. Loso predicts the waste will begin surfacing on Denali’s lower Kahiltna glacier in 15 to 25 years.
"We can’t say it precisely, but I think the important piece of that finding is that it’s not centuries away. Within the lifetime of the people managing this mountain, these waste piles are going to start to emerge on the surface."
Loso, and graduate student Katie Goodwin, also found that when the waste does emerge, it will still be quite potent. In turns out inner glaciers, which are dark and cool, are very good at preserving the type of harmful bacteria, like E. coli and fecal coliform, that live in human waste. But Loso says because it will be surfacing in such a remote area, the waste doesn’t represent a major risk to human health or to the environment.
"This human waste is going into a very, very large ecosystem that it’s difficult to argue is at all threatened. We could do the math and figure out how many kilograms of bear poop are out there and we’d come up with a huge number too."
But it is a problem the National Park Service will have to pay attention to in the years ahead. And no one is more aware of that than Roger Robinson, a mountaineering ranger on Denali.
"People do travel down that way so it’d be something the Park Service will have to manage very closely, once we start finding this stuff."
Today, all climbers are required to use "clean mountain cans"- two gallon plastic tubs that can be strapped to a backpack or sled. That rule went into effect in 2006, following a bad outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on the mountain a few years earlier. Now, a lot of human waste collected in the cans is flown off the mountain. But Robinson says in the past, most of the waste ended up in crevasses.
"There’s just no reason to have the prime mountain of the Americas filthy as it once was. It is a wilderness mountain and we need to keep it in that state."
Climbers are still allowed to throw their waste in crevasses in the middle sections of the West Buttress route. Robinson would like to see the National Park Service require all waste be carried off the mountain. He says new regulations are tricky to pass, but it would be worth the extra expense and effort.