Since Everest was first conquered in 1953, thousands of people have climbed it, leaving behind the empty oxygen bottles, ropes, tents and other garbage that made their journey possible.
Nepal has since required climbers to bring down everything they take up the mountain or lose their deposit, but debris from past climbs still litters the slopes.
The team that left Katmandu on Wednesday — led by Apa, a Sherpa who has climbed Everest a record 20 times — plans to bring down 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilograms) of garbage during the spring climbing season.
“I want to do this for my country, my people and for Everest,” said Apa, who uses only one name.
The team hopes to clear 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms) of garbage from the lower part of the mountain and another 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) from near the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit.
Expedition members, porters and guides of other expeditions will carry the garbage down the mountain, receiving 100 rupees ($1.40) for every kilogram they haul out.
Ang Tshering, organizer of the Eco Everest Expedition, said this is the fourth year a cleaning expedition has been held.