Human waste and the Denali impact...

6:21 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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10:17 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Something about that story doesn't ring true. When I summited Denali in 2002, we were required to use WAG bags and carry them off the mountain in the Clean Mountain Cans, a program that had started when I was on the mountain in 2000. We had to dump the CMC at the Ranger Station in Talkeetna and return the cans (which we were issued at the required briefing). The "latrines" were still at Kahiltna International (the air strip on the lower Kahiltna), but everything above that required the WAG bags and CMC. All liquid had to go into specified spots at the camps (you carried your pee bottle to use on the trail and dumped it at the designated spots).

Even before that, at the 17,000 foot camp, you were to use a latrine that had a plastic garbage bag to collect the poop. When it filled up, you had to seal the bag and replace it with a new one. The full bags were helicoptered off the mountain.

Antarctica is a lot stricter, but has similar regulations - poop gets flown back to Chile to be processed in the Punta Arenas sewage plant, and pee is flown back frozen in fuel barrels that are used as urinals (dump your pee bottle you used on the trail in the fuel barrels, which came in to Union Glacier full of jet fuel for the Ilyushin and Twin Otters).

3:02 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I haven’t been on the mountain since the mid 1980s.  The brown and yellow snow (and ice) was observed to be quite serious back then, but I had the good fortune of visiting when drifting and falling snow covered the worst of it.  Nevertheless I recall two of the higher camps being fairly polluted.

I am surprised by the comment they still permit dumping human waste anywhere on the West Buttress Route.  Perhaps they feel requiring pack-your-poop midroute between camps may create a safety issue with unroped climbers chasing turds in unsafe areas.

As for the buried treasure poop, I have no doubt lots of it await discovery as it becomes exposed at the foot of the glacier.  But that has no bearing on current sanitation policies.  The article’s lack of  continuity made it difficult to determine exactly what issue it was addressing.


May 26, 2018
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