Climate change with global warming is doing more and affecting us differently than we may have ever expected. Decades of hikers have been leaving their poop on Denali, North America’s tallest mountain located in Alaska, and with the warmer climate, these feces might become exposed on the glacier.
It’s been surmised that this Alaskan summit has 66 tons of frozen feces as it’s, by far, one of the most popular climbs in America. Over the future years, this excrement will become more and more visible, USA Today reported.
As a result of this recent discovery, some guide companies are doing what they can to alleviate the situation. These businesses that take climbers up year after year have changed their policy to require climbers to pack their waste down the mountain.
Just a year ago, the National Park Service had made a new policy stating that all human waste below 14,000 feet must be taken off the mountain.
“Climbers and particularly guide services are really embracing the new policy and are even exceeding it. It has become kind of an informal badge of merit to carry off all your waste,” Michael Loso, a National Park Service glaciologist, told USA Today.
However, there’s more at stake than we realize. From his research, Loso has discovered that bacteria and bugs that thrive in human feces can survive snow, cold, and time. Tests of water melt from Denali revealed small amounts of fecal coliform bacteria.
The poop will be brought to sight, regardless. “The waste will emerge at the surface not very different from when it was buried. It will be smushed and have been frozen and be really wet,” Loso told USA Today. “It will be biologically active, so the E. coli that was in the waste when it was buried will be alive and well. We expect it to still smell bad and look bad.”