Mount Everest, located in Nepal and Tibet, is usually said to be the highest mountain on Earth. Reaching 29,029 feet at its summit, Everest is indeed the highest point above global mean sea level—the average level for the ocean surface from which elevations are measured. However, the mountain is not the highest point above sea level, meaning the height of land above sea level. The island of Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean, is located an additional 5,000 feet (1.5 kilometers) below sea level. By this measurement, Maui’s Haleakala volcano (10,023 feet [3,055 meters]) is actually higher than Everest.
New Zealand’s Mount Cook (12,316 feet [3,754 meters]) is also higher than Everest by this measurement. In fact, many mountains on the continents surrounding the Pacific Ocean rank higher. These include Mount Kosciuszko in Australia (7,310 feet [2,228 meters]), Mount Logan in Canada (19,551 feet [5,959 meters]) and Indonesia’s Pancake Jaya (16,023 feet [4,884 meters]).
At 29,029 feet above sea level at its peak, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain.
The relative heights of mountains and the ocean floor help determine the spatial distribution of Earth’s mass. Both contribute to its gravitational attraction, but because ocean levels vary significantly, this contribution is not constant. This variation, in turn, affects the distance between any two bodies—such as Earth and its Moon—and thus their distance-dependent gravitational effect on one another. The effect of the varying ocean levels is seen most dramatically as the tides move about the globe.
Plate tectonics, Earth’s geological activity, is also driven by gravitational force. It is due to this force that Earth’s plates “float” on the denser mantle and move about its surface.
Everest was first summited in 1953 by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepali sherpa Tenzing Norgay. In 2008, a Japanese climber, Yuichiro Miura, became the oldest person to reach the top.
Mount Everest is known as Sagarmāthā in Nepali and Chomolungma in Tibetan. Sagarmāthā means “Goddess of the sky” and Chomolungma means “Mother Goddess of the Universe.”
Mount Everest is located at 27°59′N 86°55′E / 27.98°N 86.95°E / 27.98; 86.95
The international border between Nepal and China passes directly through Mount Everest, along the southern slope of the mountain at about 29°29′ N 86°36′ E / 29.55; 86.61 E / 29.55; 86.61
Mount Everest’s summit is located in Tibet just north of Nepal, on the border between China and Tibet, to which it belongs geographically but not politically. It is part of the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalaya. The summit is located on the China-Nepal border; it coincides with the tripoint between Tibet, Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim.
The first reported ascent was by George Mallory, climbing with Andrew Irvine in June 1924. This was also the first confirmed ascent of any 8000 metre peak.
In 1895, the Great Trigonometric Survey of India was carried out under the leadership of Herbert Rowland. It was based in Kolkata and used three different types of instrument, the aodograph, the triangulation pillar and trigonometry. Everest was thus surveyed using trigonometry.
The first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest without using oxygen, without supplemental oxygen for breathing at high altitude, was Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
The name Everest was given to the summit by the Royal Geographical Society upon recommendation of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, who named it after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest (1790–1866).
Sir George Everest was British Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843. He served for 25 years in the Bengal Engineers and was responsible for surveying most of India during that time. He was a founding member and first president of the Alpine Club and was a noted botanist and writer on the subject.
The mountain was named after him at a later date by Andrew Waugh, who served as British Surveyor General from 1843 to 1855. Everest himself never climbed to the top of that peak, but did survey it from below. He made his first ascent of a Himalayan peak in 1847, reaching the top of Nun Kun, an 8260-foot high peak in Kashmir. Everest was knighted in 1854. He died at the age of 82 in 1866.
Queen Victoria bestowed the title of “Mount Everest” on that mountain in 1860.
Queen Victoria ascended Mount Everest, with her husband Prince Albert, on 28 May 1862. She had often expressed an interest in travelling south to India and Central Asia when the time came for her to abdicate her throne after 53 years on the throne.
When she abdicated in June of that year, her son, Edward VII, ascended the throne. Just weeks later, he invited his mother to accompany him on a visit he had planned to India.
Mount Everest was, at the time, not yet known by its famous name. The Survey of India had designated it Peak XV in 1856. That name did not stick, however. Local names for it included Deodungha (Sanskrit) and Chomolungma (Tibetan).
In 1865 Horace Walker, an early explorer in the area, climbed the mountain and referred to it as Peak B. In 1866, Andrew Waugh assigned a name to it: Peak XV. It was named in honour of his predecessor, George Everest.
In 1856, a map was made that changed the way people thought about Everest itself. It was drawn by William Cecil Slingsby who undertook a journey from Calcutta to Tibet in 1855 along with two other Europeans and four Indians.
They left Calcutta on 20 January 1856. They travelled via Darjeeling where Slingsby discovered the “Peak XV” to the north-east which he believed might be higher than Kanchenjunga.
A map was made in 1865 that showed the mountain as it was then thought to look. The map shows three other peaks besides Peak XV to the north-east, all at roughly the same altitude of about 8,000 metres. There is speculation that Slingsby’s “Peak XV” might actually have been Peak XVIII.
Slingsby’s map was received with acclaim when it was published in 1856. The following year, the Royal Geographical Society, through one of its members, named the highest peak in the area after Slingsby—calling it Slingsbys Peak. They also awarded him membership, which he held for 28 years before dying in Calcutta on 11 November 1890 at the age of 70.