Mount Everest, known in Nepali as Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा) and in Tibetan as Chomolungma (ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ), is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal (Province No. 1) and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across its summit point.
The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft), recognized by China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975. In 2005, China remeasured the rock height of the mountain, with a result of 8844.43 m (29,017 ft). There followed an argument between China and Nepal as to whether the official height should be the rock height (8,844 m., China) or the snow height (8,848 m., Nepal). In 2010, an agreement was reached by both sides that the height of Everest is 8,848 m, and Nepal recognizes China's claim that the rock height of Everest is 8,844 m.
In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society, upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India. As there appeared to be several different local names, Waugh chose to name the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite Everest's objections.
Mount Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the "standard route") and the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall. As of 2017[update], nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain.
The first recorded efforts to reach Everest's summit were made by British mountaineers. As Nepal did not allow foreigners into the country at the time, the British made several attempts on the north ridge route from the Tibetan side. After the first reconnaissance expedition by the British in 1921 reached 7,000 m (22,970 ft) on the North Col, the 1922 expedition pushed the north ridge route up to 8,320 m (27,300 ft), marking the first time a human had climbed above 8,000 m (26,247 ft). Seven porters were killed in an avalanche on the descent from the North Col. The 1924 expedition resulted in one of the greatest mysteries on Everest to this day: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made a final summit attempt on 8 June but never returned, sparking debate as to whether or not they were the first to reach the top. They had been spotted high on the mountain that day but disappeared in the clouds, never to be seen again, until Mallory's body was found in 1999 at 8,155 m (26,755 ft) on the north face. Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary made the first official ascent of Everest in 1953, using the southeast ridge route. Norgay had reached 8,595 m (28,199 ft) the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss expedition. The Chinese mountaineering team of Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and Qu Yinhua made the first reported ascent of the peak from the north ridge on 25 May 1960.
The history of this area[clarification needed] dates back to 800 BCE, when the ancient Kirati had their Kirata Kingdom in the Himalayan mountains . The Mahalangur range of the Himalaya is also known as Kirat area of eastern Nepal.
In 1802, the British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India to fix the locations, heights, and names of the world's highest mountains. Starting in southern India, the survey teams moved northward using giant theodolites, each weighing 500 kg (1,100 lb) and requiring 12 men to carry, to measure heights as accurately as possible. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the 1830s, but Nepal was unwilling to allow the British to enter the country due to suspicions of political aggression and possible annexation. Several requests by the surveyors to enter Nepal were turned down.
While the survey wanted to preserve local names if possible (e.g., Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri), Waugh argued that he could not find any commonly used local name. Waugh's search for a local name was hampered by Nepal and Tibet's exclusion of foreigners. Many local names existed, including "Deodungha" ("Holy Mountain") in Darjeeling and the Tibetan "Chomolungma", which appeared on a 1733 map published in Paris by the French geographer D'Anville. In the late 19th century, many European cartographers incorrectly believed that a native name for the mountain was Gaurishankar, a mountain between Kathmandu and Everest.
Waugh argued that because there were many local names, it would be difficult to favour one name over all others, so he decided that Peak XV should be named after Welsh surveyor Sir George Everest, his predecessor as Surveyor General of India. Everest himself opposed the name suggested by Waugh and told the Royal Geographical Society in 1857 that "Everest" could not be written in Hindi nor pronounced by "the native of India". Waugh's proposed name prevailed despite the objections, and in 1865, the Royal Geographical Society officially adopted Mount Everest as the name for the highest mountain in the world. The modern pronunciation of Everest (/ˈɛvərɪst/) is different from Sir George's pronunciation of his surname (/ˈiːvrɪst/ EEV-rist).
The elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft) was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955, made closer to the mountain, also using theodolites. It was subsequently reaffirmed by a 1975 Chinese measurement of 8,848.13 m (29,029.30 ft). In both cases the snow cap, not the rock head, was measured. In May 1999 an American Everest Expedition, directed by Bradford Washburn, anchored a GPS unit into the highest bedrock. A rock head elevation of 8,850 m (29,035 ft), and a snow/ice elevation 1 m (3 ft) higher, were obtained via this device. Although it has not been officially recognised by Nepal, this figure is widely quoted. Geoid uncertainty casts doubt upon the accuracy claimed by both the 1999 and 2005 surveys.
The summit of Everest is the point at which earth's surface reaches the greatest distance above sea level. Several other mountains are sometimes claimed to be the "tallest mountains on earth". Mauna Kea in Hawaii is tallest when measured from its base; it rises over 10,200 m (33,464.6 ft) when measured from its base on the mid-ocean floor, but only attains 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level.
Birds, such as the bar-headed goose, have been seen flying at the higher altitudes of the mountain, while others, such as the chough, have been spotted as high as the South Col at 7,920 metres (25,980 ft). Yellow-billed choughs have been seen as high as 7,900 metres (26,000 ft) and bar-headed geese migrate over the Himalayas. In 1953, George Lowe (part of the expedition of Tenzing and Hillary) said that he saw bar-headed geese flying over Everest's summit.
Yaks are often used to haul gear for Mount Everest climbs. They can haul 100 kg (220 pounds), have thick fur and large lungs. One common piece of advice for those in the Everest region is to be on the higher ground when around yaks and other animals, as they can knock people off the mountain if standing on the downhill edge of a trail. Other animals in the region include the Himalayan tahr which is sometimes eaten by the snow leopard. The Himalayan black bear can be found up to about 4,300 metres (14,000 ft) and the red panda is also present in the region. One expedition found a surprising range of species in the region including a pika and ten new species of ants.
Because Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, it has attracted considerable attention and climbing attempts. A set of climbing routes has been established over several decades of climbing expeditions to the mountain. Whether the mountain was climbed in ancient times is unknown. It may have been climbed in 1924.
By March 2012, Everest had been climbed 5,656 times with 223 deaths. Although lower mountains have longer or steeper climbs, Everest is so high the jet stream can hit it. Climbers can be faced with winds beyond 320 km/h (200 mph) when the weather shifts. At certain times of the year the jet stream shifts north, providing periods of relative calm at the mountain. Other dangers include blizzards and avalanches.
The northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory and Guy Bullock on the initial 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition. It was an exploratory expedition not equipped for a serious attempt to climb the mountain. With Mallory leading (and thus becoming the first European to set foot on Everest's flanks) they climbed the North Col to an altitude of 7,005 metres (22,982 ft). From there, Mallory espied a route to the top, but the party was unprepared for the great task of climbing any further and descended.
On 8 June 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made an attempt on the summit via the North Col-North Ridge-Northeast Ridge route from which they never returned. On 1 May 1999, the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition found Mallory's body on the North Face in a snow basin below and to the west of the traditional site of Camp VI. Controversy has raged in the mountaineering community whether one or both of them reached the summit 29 years before the confirmed ascent and safe descent of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
In 1970 Japanese mountaineers conducted a major expedition. The centerpiece was a large "siege"-style expedition led by Saburo Matsukata, working on finding a new route up the southwest face. Another element of the expedition was an attempt to ski Mount Everest. Despite a staff of over one hundred people and a decade of planning work, the expedition suffered eight deaths and failed to summit via the planned routes. However, Japanese expeditions did enjoy some successes. For example, Yuichiro Miura became the first man to ski down Everest from the South Col (he descended nearly 4,200 vertical feet from the South Col before falling with extreme injuries). Another success was an expedition that put four on the summit via the South Col route. Miura's exploits became the subject of film, and he went on to become the oldest person to summit Mount Everest in 2003 at age 70 and again in 2013 at the age of 80. 2b1af7f3a8