An American photographer who has spent over 40 years working in Nepal has accused Western climbers including Sir Edmund Hillary of being insensitive to the old traditions of the mountain.
Jeff Botz, 64, a professional photographer from New Jersey, is supporting a campaign, long backed by China, for Mt Everest to be known by its traditional names of Sagarmatha in Nepalese or Chomolungma to the Tibetans, and to be treated as a sacred place.
"I've never really had much respect for him (Hillary)," Botz said.
"After he climbed the mountain - being the first person (to do so) - he was quoted as saying `we knocked the bastard off'.
"This is the same attitude that people have now. It's not like they're not having too much reverence for this mountain."
Botz said the old tradition of the world's highest peak (8,848m) being a spiritual pilgrimage is almost lost.
"This truly is a place of sacred significance."
Botz began photographing the Himalayan mountain range in 1973 and has been a frequent visitor since with a major photographic exhibit now open in Kathmandu.
He is highly critical of Western interpretations and understanding of the mountain dating back to Sir Edmund, who together with Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, became the first to summit Everest in May 1953.
Hillary's apparent first words to lifelong friend George Lowe on returning from Everest's summit were: "Well George, we knocked the bastard off."
Botz says Hillary's attitude is symptomatic of attitudes of many of the 3,000 climbers who have reached the summit since then and the 20,000 visitors who travel to the base camps each year.
Climbing Everest was big business and it "desensitised people" who paid $US30,000-$US100,000.
"They had really large tents where people played ping pong and they had tents where they had internet connections 24 hours a day and movie tents. Their involvement in the mountains is really minimal."
Many were not fully fit to make the climb relying heavily on the Sherpa guides for support and oxygen, Botz said.