Nightly News   |  May 29, 2013

60 years of climbing leaves Mount Everest polluted, crowded

There are hundreds of expeditions each year up the tallest mountain in the world, and more than 3000 climbers have now reached the summit. But the additional foot traffic has resulted in trash left behind, and crowding. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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>>> finally tonight it was 60 years ago today. it was big news around the world when people learned that a british climbing expedition had conquered the highest mountain on earth. climbing to the mount of everest was an act of bravery and daring. things had to go well, and they did. things have changed a lot since then. more than 3,000 people have now scaled everest . while it is still the top of the world , make no mistake, in recent years it's taken on something of a less rarified air. something closer to a tourist attraction . jim maceda has our report.

>> reporter: the goddess of snows, the mother of the universe, mount everest . the highest place on earth, but it may as well have been the dark side of the moon until 60 years ago today when edmund hillary , a bee keeper from new zealand and his sherpa friend conquered everest .

>> it was like landing on the moon . it was going where no one had gone before.

>> reporter: at an everest exhibition today in london queen elizabeth remembered where she was the day the news broke, attending her own coronation at age 27. in katmandu near everest the occasion was marked by that pal's version of a ticker tape parade honoring climbers past and present . things have changed at the top of the world . it's become crowded. more than 3,000 climbers have now reached the summit. almost 300 have died trying. the simple gear of the past replaced by thermal boots and high tech micro fleece jackets. hundreds of expeditions a year. human traffic jams on everest are as common as the rubbish left behind. at up to $75,000 a slot for a guided climb, everest is for sale.

>> it's a commodity you can buy off the shelf.

>> reporter: there are still firsts. a russian dare devil 's record-breaking base jump off everest this month. a japanese man, at 80, the oldest to reach the summit last month. what did the late sir hillary think of this? here's what he said on the 50th anniversary .

>> i dislike the commercialization of the climb of everest . i don't regard that as climbing a mountain.

>> reporter: a mountain that's stood for 60 million years and changed dramatically in just 60 because it's there. jim maceda, nbc news, london.