Do not adjust your screens. Do not check the calendar, for it is not April and it is not April Fool’s Day. The height of the highest mountain in the world has officially changed. You might have thought the big one’s summit was 8,848 metres high. You were wrong (not your fault, most of us did).
China and Nepal have agreed on a new, taller, height for the world’s mountain – concluding that the summit is, in fact, 8,848.86 metres high (we’re happy to round that up and call it 8,849 metres but, ultimately, it’s not up to us).
Nepal had previously based its measurement off an estimate carried out by the Survey of India way back in 1954 – one year after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made that famous first ascent.
“Do not adjust your screens. Do not check the calendar… it is not April Fool’s Day”
In 2005, China rocked up and threw a curveball into the soup when they concluded that the rock height of Mount Everest was 8,844.43 metres (29,017 feet). This was about 3.7 metres (11 feet) less than the 1954 measurement.
What does this change mean for the list of the highest mountains in the world? Not a lot, in all honesty. K2, the world’s second highest mountain, has a summit that’s 237 metres lower.
Something else worth considering is the fact the 2,900km-long Himalayan chain is located on, and was formed by, colliding Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. These plates are, even as you read this, pushing up the Himalaya at an average of 1cm every year. Give it another 15 years and there could well be another announcement like this one.
Nepal, which can proudly lay claim to another seven of the highest 14 peaks on the planet sent its first team of surveyors in May last year to measure Everest. They did it after feeling pressured from China to accept the Chinese height of the mountain. They did it, as Nepal’s government told the BBC eight years ago, because they wanted to “set the record straight once and for all.”
China and Nepal both sent teams to climb the mountain, using clever stuff like GPS and trigonometry to make the final calculations. The new height has been agreed on by both nations, meaning that climbing the world’s highest mountain just officially got ever so slightly harder from a psychological perspective.
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