Mt. Everest Climbing and Conservation Forum

Mt. Everest Cultural and Environmental Conservation Forum


Interested in climbing Mt. Everest or curious about the Sherpa people?  Wonder about climate change and the tallest mountain on earth?

Join us for a discussion about how Buddhists, climbers, rebels, and tourists share the sacred space of Mt. Everest and the Khumbu Valley.

Date: March 1, 2018

Time: 4 – 7pm


Western Washington University, Academic West Bld. Rm. 204

FREE PARKING IN LOT 12G (Map) next to the building - starting at 3:30.


  1. Rebuilding and revitalizing the historic Deboche Nunnery after the 2015 earthquake - an integral link in the preservation of Tibetan/ Buddhist traditions and Sherpa culture
  2. Building biogas facilities for converting human waste to power remote Sherpa villages
  3. Climbing Mt. Everest and how it has changed over recent decades
    • Dan Mazur, Mt. Everest and K2 expedition leader.  Dan first summited Everest back in 1991 and has led several famous expeditions –
  4. The impact of the decade-long Nepal civil war on Sherpa culture and the Mt. Everest environment.


Details on the talks and speakers:

1. Laura Rose -

The Deboche Project:  Rebuilding and revitalizing the historic Deboche Nunnery, an integral link to the preservation of Tibetan/ Buddhist traditions and Sherpa culture

Nestled into the foothills of Mt. Everest, the small Deboche convent is considered to be the oldest and most historically significant Buddhist nunnery in the Himalayan region, playing a key role in preserving Tibetan/ Buddhist traditions and Sherpa culture since the early 1920’s. Over time the buildings fell into disrepair and neglect, creating unsafe and harsh living conditions for the remaining resident nuns (Anis) and placing the convent’s future in jeopardy

The Deboche Project is an organized effort to renew and vitalize the struggling convent. Various projects have been completed, such as the provision of running water, sanitary facilities, a greenhouse, stoves and a working kitchen. Currently under construction is a new facility with residences and a teaching space to support the study and practice for both the resident nuns and those visiting from other convents. It will also serve as place to gather and celebrate Tibetan/Sherpa culture and Buddhist traditions for the people living within the Everest region.

This presentation will cover the story of the Deboche Anis, the project approach by the Deboche Project team and the Architects Without Borders team, an overview of the 2015 earthquake impacts and a construction update on the new residential/teaching facility.


Laura Rose is the Deboche Project Lead for Architects Without Borders (AWB), Seattle Chapter. AWB provides pro-bono ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities both locally and internationally.

She also serves as a Board Member/ Project Lead for the Deboche Project sponsor team.

Laura earned her architecture degree from Washington State University and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. After a few stints with architectural firms in Vail, Co. and Seattle, the lion’s share of her career was in-house at REI, leading store design projects and architectural consultant teams.

2. Garry Porter -

Building biogas facilities for converting human waste to power remote Sherpa villages

Climbers on Mount Everest take away life-changing memories, remarkable images and adventurous friends from every corner of the Earth. They also leave behind human waste, which is not currently disposed of in a safe, clean, or sustainable manner. Last year, more than 26,000 pounds of untreated human waste accumulated from climbers and their support members at Mount Everest Base Camp. The environmental impact this practice has on the fragile environment of Mount Everest and the health risks to the local population is massive.  High altitude and extremely cold temperatures at Everest Base Camp make natural decomposition processes impossible. This results in the accumulation of decades’ worth of harmful fecal matter accruing at an increasingly exponential rate, just as Mount Everest’s popularity for expedition opportunities escalates. An anaerobic digester system is a large tank where microorganisms feed on a mixture of water and bacteria found in organic waste, breaking down the waste and producing two byproducts: methane, a renewable natural gas, and a pathogen-reduced effluent. What is unique about the Mount Everest Biogas Project is twofold. First, it is a creative adaptation of existing biogas digester technology, re-engineered with customized modifications for operation in the harsh environment of high altitude, extremely cold conditions.

Second, it uses only human waste as the input fuel, a waste type that produces less methane gas than produced using typical animal waste or kitchen waste products. With these two scientific challenges to overcome, the team initiated substantial research and design and has subsequently reached a deployable solution.

Garry Porter Bio

Garry is a retired Boeing Company Program manager with over 34 years of engineering and program management experience. He holds a Master of Science degree in engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska.

He is the project manager of the Mt. Everest Biogas Project and co-founder with Dan Mazur on the project.

3. Dan Mazur -

Climbing Mt. Everest and how it has changed over recent decades

The Mt. Everest region has seen a massive increase in tourism in recent decades as more and more climbers attempt Mt. Everest.  Dan will talk about what is involved in climbing Mt. Everest for those who dream of climbing the mountain.  He will give a guide’s perspective on climbing the mountain.  He will also talk about how climbing the mountain has changed since his first ascent of the peak in 1991. He’ll talk about changes in both the climb and in the local communities that surround the peak and how tourism has affected the local people.  Finally, he’ll speculate on the future of climbing Mt. Everest.

Dan Mazur Bio

Dan Mazur is a contemporary mountain climber most widely known for leading Greg Mortenson's 1993 K2 expedition in "Three Cups of Tea" and for the rescue of Lincoln Hall, an Australian climber on Mount Everest on May 25, 2006. Lincoln Hall had been 'left for dead' by another expedition team the previous day at around 8600 meters on Everest after collapsing and failing to respond to treatment on the descent from the summit. Mazur and his fellow climbers - Andrew Brash (Canada), Myles Osborne (UK) and Jangbu Sherpa (Nepal) - in abandoning their own attempt on the summit in order to save Hall's life epitomized the noblest traditions of mountaineering, underscored by the death of British climber; David Sharp, a few days earlier.

Having reached the summit of Mount Everest on an expedition together with Anatoli Boukreev in 1991, he has subsequently climbed six more of the world's 8,000-meter peaks and led expeditions more than 15 times to the world's highest, including Everest 7 times (x), K2 2x, Lhotse2x, Makalu, Kangchenjunga 2x, Cho Oyu 2x, Manaslu, Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2 and Shishapangma. His current employer,, are now in their sixteenth year of organizing expeditions to Tibet, Nepal, China, Africa, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, and North America.

4. John All -

The impact of the decade-long Nepal civil war on Sherpa culture and the Mt. Everest environment.

From 1996 to 2006, civil war engulfed Nepal. The insurgents used the Himalayan national parks as their bases and this had severe social and environmental consequences – consequences that have continued to this day. John All was on Everest leading an NSF-supported expedition during the 2014 icefall and subsequent closure of the mountain by the former Maoist insurgents. John’s research team was in the middle of the icefall that, at the time, had the greatest death toll in Everest history, and one member of his team was killed as they studied climate change impacts on the Everest massif. He will discuss the positive and negative environmental impacts resulting from the Maoist insurgency and how these impacts have reshaped the cultural and social dynamics of the area. Dr. All will link this project with similar work in Peru as the Mountain Environments Research Institute conducts holistic, interdisciplinary research in the world's highest mountains.

John All Bio

John All, JD, PhD, is a geoscientist specializing in climate change research in remote locations and is the author of Icefall: Adventures at the Wild Edges of our Dangerous, Changing Planet. John is the Founding Director of the Mountain Environments Research Institute at Western Washington University. A lifetime Fellow of the Explorers Club and Fulbright Senior Scholar, All is also Executive Director of the American Climber Science Program (, which brings together scientists from many disciplines, along with students and mountaineers, to expand global research at high altitudes. His work is broadly focused on fragile, indicator environments, in particular the world’s highest mountains, where changing climate has profound consequences. He is an advocate for adaptive strategies to cope with changes now occurring and his research is focused on science that informs public discourse.