Mount Everest Facts and Information

2021-01-05 | Published By: Bold Himalaya

The Majestic Mount Everest: A Global Beacon of Exploration

Towering at an astonishing 8,848.86 meters (29,031.69 feet) above sea level, Mount Everest is renowned as the roof of the earth and the most famous mountain in the world. As a part of the great Himalayan range, Everest has become a global symbol of exploration and endeavor, attracting hundreds of climbers each year.

The current official elevation of Everest, accepted by both China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and confirmed by a 1975 Chinese survey. However, the peak's journey to fame started much earlier. Originally named "Gamma" and later "Peak b" in 1847, it was suspected that this peak might surpass Kanchenjunga, the previously considered highest mountain in the world.

Through numerous surveys and measurements over the next few years, the great height of "Peak b" was confirmed, leading to its renaming as "Peak XV." Finally, in 1865, the Royal Geographical Society bestowed upon it the official English name of Mount Everest.

In addition to its official name, Mount Everest has been known by several other names throughout history. In the late 19th century, many European cartographers mistakenly believed the mountain's native name to be Gaurishankar, a mountain located between Kathmandu and Everest. In Nepal, Mount Everest is also known as Sagarmatha, a Sanskrit name meaning "Peak of Heaven" or "Goddess of the Sky." The Tibetan name for Everest is Qomolangma or Chomolungma, meaning "Holy Mother."

Mount Everest continues to be a pinnacle of human aspiration, drawing adventurers and climbers from around the globe to its towering heights. 

How Old is Mount Everest? The Geological History and Formation of the World's Highest Peak

The Geological Age and Formation of Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, is estimated to be 50 to 60 million years old, making it relatively young by geological standards. As a part of the majestic Himalayan range, Everest shares its origin story with these towering peaks, which were formed through significant geological processes.

Formation of the Himalayas

The formation of the Himalayas began approximately 40-50 million years ago with the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian continent. This tectonic activity, characterized by the northward movement of the Indian plate at a rate of 15 cm per year, resulted in the uplift of lighter rocks from ancient seabeds, creating the Himalayan range. A fascinating fact that illustrates this process is that the summit of Mount Everest is composed of marine limestone, indicating its underwater origins.

Ongoing Geological Processes

The geological forces that formed Everest continue to shape it today. The summit of Everest rises about a quarter of an inch higher each year due to the ongoing movement of tectonic plates. This continuous uplift ensures that the highest peak on Earth continues to rise, ever so slightly, year by year.

The Significance of Everest's Geology

Understanding the geological history and formation of Mount Everest not only highlights its grandeur but also underscores the dynamic processes that continue to shape our planet. Everest's relatively young age and its ongoing elevation are a testament to the powerful natural forces at work beneath the Earth's surface.

By delving into the geological story of Mount Everest, we gain a deeper appreciation for this iconic mountain and the remarkable natural phenomena that continue to influence its towering presence.

The Evolution of Mount Everest's Name and Height: A Detailed Survey History

Mount Everest was confirmed as the world’s highest mountain, replacing Kanchenjunga, which was previously considered the highest peak. Here's a detailed look at how Everest's name and height have evolved through various surveys:

19th Century Survey

The British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India in 1802 to determine the location, heights, and names of the world’s highest mountains. Although incomplete initially, the survey resumed in 1847, focusing on the Himalayan peaks. The British Surveyor General of India, Andrew Waugh, conducted detailed measurements from the Sawajpore station. He and his subordinate, John Armstrong, identified a peak they called "peak ‘b’."

In 1849, Waugh sent James Nicolson to measure peak ‘b’. Nicolson's raw data indicated an average height of 9,200 meters (30,200 feet), suggesting it was higher than Kanchenjunga. This peak was then referred to as Peak XV. In 1852, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal identified Peak XV as the world’s highest peak using trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson’s measurements. The calculations were repeatedly verified, and the official announcement was made later.

20th Century Survey

The height of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) was officially approved by Nepal and China. The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping announced Everest's elevation as 8,844.43 meters (29,017.16 feet) with an accuracy of ±0.21 meters (8.3 inches), claiming it as the most accurate measurement. The team also measured a snow depth of 3.5 meters (11 feet), aligning with a net elevation of 8,848 meters. However, a debate arose between China and Nepal over whether to use the rock height (8,844 meters) or the snow height (8,848 meters). In 2010, both countries agreed to recognize Everest's height as 8,848 meters, with Nepal acknowledging China's rock height claim.

21st Century Survey

After years of calculations from the Great Trigonometric Survey, Andrew Waugh announced in 1856 that Everest (Peak XV) was 8,840 meters (29,002 feet). In 1865, Everest received its official English name. The height of 8,848 meters was first determined by the Indian survey in 1955 using theodolites and reaffirmed by a Chinese measurement in 1975, which measured the snow cap, not the rock head.

In 1999, an American Everest Expedition, led by Bradford Washburn, used GPS to secure the highest bedrock measurement. This determined a rock head elevation of 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) with a snow elevation 1 meter higher. Under Washburn's direction in the late 1980s, a more accurate topographic map of the Everest region was created using extensive aerial photography.

Understanding the evolution of Mount Everest's name and height offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and precision of mountain surveying, reflecting the dedication and advancements in geographic science over the centuries.

Discover Mount Everest: The Majestic Peak in the Mahalangur Range

Mount Everest, also known as Sagarmatha, is located in the Mahalangur range, straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet. The exact coordinates of Mount Everest are 27.9881° N latitude and 86.9250° E longitude. As part of the great Himalayas, which stretch 2,500 km through Nepal, India, Pakistan, Tibet, and China, Everest stands as a symbol of natural grandeur and adventure.

The south side of Mount Everest lies in Nepal, while the north side is in Tibet. In Nepal, Everest is situated within Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Solukhumbu district. This region is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage.

Come to Nepal and witness the magnificence of Mount Everest with your own eyes, experiencing the beauty and majesty of the world's highest peak firsthand.

Geological Composition of Mount Everest: An In-Depth Look

Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is a geological marvel composed of distinct rock formations, each separated by low-angle faults known as detachments. These formations have been thrust southward over each other, creating the complex structure of Everest as we know it today.

From the summit to the base, the three primary rock units of Everest are the Qomolangma Formation, the North Col Formation, and the Rongbuk Formation.

  1. Qomolangma Formation: This formation extends from the summit down to the top of the Yellow Band, approximately 8,600 meters (28,200 feet) above sea level. Also known as the Jolmo Lungama Formation, it consists of greyish to dark grey or white Ordovician limestone, characterized by parallel layering and embedding. The formation also contains interlayered subordinate beds of recrystallized dolomite with argillaceous laminae and siltstone. High-angle faults disrupt the Qomolangma Formation, terminating at the low-angle normal fault called the Qomolangma Detachment.
  2. North Col Formation: Situated between 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) and 8,600 meters (28,200 feet), the North Col Formation constitutes the bulk of Everest. The Yellow Band, which forms the upper part of this formation, lies between 8,200 meters (26,900 feet) and 8,600 meters (28,200 feet). This band consists of Middle Cambrian diopside-epidote-bearing marble and is distinguished by its yellowish-brown and muscovite-biotite phyllite or semischist composition.
  3. Rongbuk Formation: Below 7,000 meters (23,000 feet), the Rongbuk Formation forms the base of Mount Everest. It comprises sillimanite-K-feldspar grade schist and gneiss, intruded by various sills and barriers of leucogranite. This formation represents the deeper layers of Everest's geological structure.

Everest's rocks are primarily sedimentary and metamorphic, faulted southward across continental crust formed by Archean granulites of the Indian plate during the Cenozoic collision of India with Asia. Recent interpretations suggest that the Qomolangma and North Col Formations consist of marine sediments, which accumulated within the continental shelf of the northern passive continental margin of India before its collision with Asia.

Understanding the geological makeup of Mount Everest not only provides insights into its formation but also enhances our appreciation of this iconic natural wonder.

Climate and Glacial Activity on Mount Everest

Mount Everest experiences a polar climate (Köppen EF) with average temperatures well below freezing throughout the year. The average temperature in July is around -18 degrees Celsius, while in January, it drops to approximately -36 degrees Celsius. These extreme temperatures contribute to the extensive glacial coverage on Everest's slopes.

Glacial Coverage

The slopes of Everest are covered by glaciers that extend to its base. The prominent glaciers include:

  • Kangshung Glacier: Consuming the East, Central, and West slopes.
  • Rongbuk and Pumori Glaciers: Covering the north and northwest regions.
  • Khumbu Glacier: Extending to the west and south.

The Western Cwm, an embedded valley of ice between Everest and the Lhotse-Nuptse Ridge to the south, is filled by the glacier bed, further contributing to the mountain's glacial landscape.

Impact of Glacial Activity

Glacial activity has been the primary force behind the significant and ongoing erosion of Everest and other mountains in the region. The glaciers continuously reshape the mountain's landscape, creating deep valleys and rugged terrains.

Unpredictable Himalayan Climate

The climate and weather in the Himalayas are notoriously unpredictable. Rapid changes in weather conditions can occur, posing significant challenges for climbers and researchers. This unpredictability, combined with the extreme cold and glacial presence, makes Mount Everest one of the most formidable and fascinating natural wonders in the world.

Understanding the climate and glacial dynamics of Mount Everest is crucial for anyone planning an expedition or study in the region. These factors not only define the mountain's unique environment but also influence the strategies and preparations required for a successful and safe journey.

Flora and Fauna of Mount Everest: A Diverse Ecosystem

Indigenous Flora on Mount Everest

Mount Everest, known for its extreme conditions, has very little indigenous flora. However, the Everest region is teeming with diverse plant life. Notably:

  • Moss: Grows at an astonishing elevation of 6,480 meters (21,260 feet), potentially the highest elevation plant species.
  • Arenaria: An alpine cushion plant found below 5,500 meters (18,000 feet).

Unique Fauna on Mount Everest

The fauna on Mount Everest, while rare, includes several unique species:

  • Euphorias omnisuperstes: A minute black jumping spider found at altitudes as high as 6,700 meters (22,000 feet). This spider might be the highest confirmed non-microscopic permanent resident on Earth, hiding in crevices and feeding on frozen insects.
  • Microscopic Life: Likely present at even higher altitudes.

Larger Animals in the Everest Region

Several larger animals are adapted to Everest's harsh environment:

  • Yaks: Frequently used to haul gear for Everest climbs. They can carry 100 kg (220 pounds) and have thick fur and large lungs, perfect for high altitudes.
  • Himalayan Tahr: Sometimes preyed upon by the snow leopard.
  • Himalayan Black Bear: Found up to about 4,300 meters (14,000 feet).
  • Red Pandas: Present in the region.

Birds of Mount Everest

Birdlife in the Everest region includes:

  • Bar-Headed Goose: Seen flying at higher altitudes, even above Mount Everest's summit.
  • Choughs: Including the yellow-billed chough, observed as high as 7,900 meters (26,000 feet).
  • South Col Sightings: Choughs have been found as high as the South Col at 7,920 meters (25,980 feet).

Expanding Vegetation

Recent studies based on satellite data from 1993 to 2018 show that vegetation is expanding in the Everest region. Researchers have discovered plants in areas previously deemed barren.

Understanding the flora and fauna of Mount Everest not only highlights the mountain's ecological diversity but also underscores the adaptability of life in extreme conditions. This knowledge enriches the experience of those who explore this majestic peak and its surroundings.

The Allure of Mount Everest: Reaching the World's Highest Summit

Mount Everest is an awe-inspiring natural wonder, renowned for its breathtaking beauty and status as the world’s highest peak. Each year, thousands of adventurers from around the globe are drawn to its majestic slopes, aiming to achieve the remarkable feat of reaching its summit.

The Ultimate Climbing Challenge

Reaching the summit of Mount Everest is a goal pursued by many but achieved by only the brave and bold. The climb requires not only physical endurance but also mental resilience. Climbers face extreme conditions, including the need for supplemental oxygen due to the thin air at high altitudes and the necessity for extremely warm clothing to withstand the harsh temperatures.

Stunning Panoramic Views

The ascent offers unparalleled views of the surrounding Himalayan range, with hundreds of majestic peaks and panoramic vistas that are simply breathtaking. These magnificent views are a significant draw for climbers and trekkers alike, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience of natural beauty and grandeur.

A Global Attraction

Mount Everest's allure extends beyond climbers. Every year, thousands of tourists visit the region to witness its splendor, trek to its base camp, or simply bask in the awe of standing in the shadow of the world's highest mountain.

A Symbol of Achievement

Conquering Mount Everest is not just about reaching the summit; it symbolizes human perseverance, courage, and the relentless pursuit of dreams. Being the highest point on Earth, it represents a monumental achievement and an enduring inspiration for explorers and nature enthusiasts worldwide.

In conclusion, Mount Everest’s stunning beauty, combined with the challenge of its ascent and the awe-inspiring views it offers, continues to captivate and inspire people from all corners of the globe. Whether you aim to climb it or simply wish to experience its grandeur, Mount Everest remains a pinnacle of natural wonder and human ambition.

The History and Milestones of Climbing Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, has captivated the hearts of trekkers and climbers for decades. While its allure draws thousands of adventurers each year, the mountain's reputation surged after the first successful summit in 1953. Here's a look at the significant milestones in Everest's climbing history.

Early Attempts and the First Successful Summit

Before 1953, Mount Everest was an elusive prize for many mountaineers. Despite numerous attempts by professional climbers and large national expeditions, only about 200 people had summited by 1987. The breakthrough came when New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first known climbers to reach the summit on May 29, 1953.

Pioneering Climbers

Several notable climbers paved the way for Hillary and Norgay's success. George Mallory, who discovered the north route to the summit in 1921, and George Finch, who reached an altitude of over 8,230 meters (27,000 feet) using oxygen for the first time in 1922, made significant contributions to Everest exploration.

Notable Ascents and Records

  • First Summit from the North Side: Tibetan Nawang Gombu and Chinese mountaineers Wang Fu-Zhou and Chu Yin-Hau made the first confirmed summit from Everest's north side on May 25, 1960.
  • First Female Climber: Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit in 1975.
  • Without Supplemental Oxygen: Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first to summit without supplemental oxygen in 1978.
  • First Blind Climber: Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to reach the summit in 2001.
  • Oldest Climber: Min Bahadur Sherchan set the record as the oldest person to summit at the age of 76.
  • Youngest Climber: Jordan Romero became the youngest person to reach the summit at the age of 13.
  • First Ski Descent: Yuichiro Miura was the first person to ski down Everest in the 1970s.

The Commercial Climbing Era

The 1990s marked the beginning of the commercial climbing era, making Everest more accessible to non-professional climbers. This shift has significantly increased the number of successful summits, with more climbers from around the world achieving their dream of standing atop the world's highest peak.

Everest Today

Today, Mount Everest remains a symbol of human endeavor and exploration. Its challenging climb continues to attract both seasoned climbers and adventure enthusiasts. As new records are set and more climbers take on the challenge, Everest's legacy as the ultimate mountaineering goal endures.

For those drawn to the allure of Everest, the mountain represents not just a physical challenge, but a testament to the spirit of adventure and the enduring human desire to conquer the unknown.