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How Tall IS Mount Everest?

December 11, 2020
Mount Everest
I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

Known for its intimidating climb, Mount Everest sits high above the world, part of it located in Tibet and the other in Nepal. Many climbers have tried to conquer the beast, but few have succeeded. Why? Because Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and the farther up you climb, the harder it is to breathe. Challenging? We’d say so. That’s why if you ever ask a climber how tall Mount Everest is, they might just jokingly say, “very!” Funny, right? But, believe it or not, the exact height of Mount Everest has never been formally determined (or agreed upon!) until very recently. Ready for the story? In 2005, China surveyed the mountain and proclaimed that the height of Mount Everest is an estimated 8,844 meters (or approximately 19,015 feet). However, because Nepal never agreed to the research, the Nepalese didn’t recognize China’s survey results. Instead, Nepal continued to recognize the height of the mountain as 8,848 meters (or 29,028 feet), a height that was determined by the 1995 survey conducted by India. Fast forward a decade and, after several studies suggested that the height of Mount Everest may have changed as a result of a large earthquake, Nepal decided to take on the task of remeasuring the height of the mountain, but this time in cooperation with China. It was a long and difficult task but, after a few years, the survey was completed. Earlier this month, Nepal and China jointly announced that the new and formally agreed-upon height of Mount Everest is 8,848.86 meters (or approximately 29,032 feet). Yes, remeasuring the height of the mountain was difficult and time-consuming, but to these two countries, it was as much of a symbolic gesture as it was a physical task. According to China’s president, Xi Jinping, this project symbolized the great and lasting friendship between Nepal and China.