Where is Mount Everest?
Mt. Everest is the tallest peak in the world, that soars at 8,848 m above sea level. People from all over the world visit Nepal to see this magical beauty of nature and some even dare to climb to the top of it.
Many people around the world are curious to know about the glorious and majestic art of nature. So, today in this article, I’m going to reveal some interesting facts related to Mt. Everest, its geography, history of exploration, and several other facts relating to it.
Where is Mt. Everest?
Mount Everest stands in the Mahalangur mountain range. It lies on the border of both China and Nepal. The summit of Mt. Everest lies on the border of Nepal to the south and Tibet to the north.
The main gateway to the Mt. Everest is in Nepal. Since the Everest summit lies between Tibet and Nepal, climbers can climb either from Nepalese side (the southeast ridge) and the Tibetan side (the north ridge).
Generally, both for mountaineering and bureaucratic reasons, Sherpas and the past expeditions considers southeast ridge as the best and the easiest for climbing Everest.
Geography of Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest lies at 27 59’ East Longitude. Mt. Everest is at a distance of about 160.52 kilometers which is 99.74 miles from Kathmandu.
In history, Mt. Everest is Nobel with several names. Everest is well-known as “Sagarmatha” in Nepal which means “Forehead of the Sky”. The Tibetan’s called Chomolungma which means “Goddess Mother of Mountains”. The peak was actually named “Everest” from Surveyor General “Sir George Everest”. He was the one who identified the exact location of the peak in 1865.
How was Mt. Everest formed?
Mt. Everest was formed some 60 million years ago by the movement of earth’s tectonic plates; Indian sub-continental plate collided with the Eurasian continental plate. Because of the continued collision, there is continuous movement in plates, so the Himalayas are changing. Some data suggest that the Himalayas continue to grow upwards.
Until the 19th century, no one had thought of Mt. Everest as the roof of the world. In 1802, British geologist had launched the Great Trigonometrical Survey to map the Indian subcontinent. Despite difficult terrain, poor weather conditions, and heavy equipment surveyors were able to take accurate measurements.
Thus, by 1852 Mt. Everest was imperial as the king of them all and by 1856 the height of Mt. Everest was state as 8,840 m (29,002 ft) above the sea level. Whereas, in the 1999 survey, using state of the art GPS technology found that the height was 10m more i.e. 8848m. Thus the current height of Mt. Everest is 8,848m (29,035 ft).
Flora and fauna
The Everest region is a home to diverse flora and fauna. In this region, there is a wide range of plants and animals from less than 2,000 m at Jiri to the high peaks of the Himalaya at over 8,000 m.
Also, it lies in the world’s highest national park in the world i.e. Sagarmatha National Park. This park includes three peaks higher than 8,000 m, including Mt. Everest. Most of the park area is rough and steep and cut by deep rivers and glaciers.
The park is divided into three climatic zones i.e., forested, alpine, and upper alpine zone. Depending on the altitude, different types of plants are survived. Normally, you’ll find the plants in the lower forested zone.
In the lower forested zone up to 4,000 m, you’ll find birch, juniper, pine, firs, bamboo, and rhododendrons trees. Above this level shrubs and dwarfs are available. As the altitude increase, you’ll only find the mosses and lichens. Besides, at a higher altitude, you’ll find the different types of mushroom and herbal plants.
Due to the harsh weather conditions, above 5,750 m above sea level plants are stop to grow. The plant can no longer stay and sustain in the climate because of the lack of oxygen.
The crop under cultivation will depend on the season that you visit. But along the way, you’ll see wheat, barley, corn, and potatoes.
In high altitude, near the top of Everest, there are not too many animals. Since at the top it is very cold and there’s not much oxygen so to adapt it’s hard for an animal.
At the lower area, there are pine and hemlock trees. In these forests animals like musk deer, pikas (an animal a little bit like a rabbit or hare), and Himalayan Tahr (Goat-Like animals related to wild goats).
Higher up the mountain, the trees stop to grow as its too cold and windy only some shrubs still grow under the snow. Animals like snow leopard and mountain sheep can live in these areas.
History of exploration
Mt. Everest is expected to be 60 million years old. Both Nepalese and Tibetan worship the mountain for a long period of time.
The curiosity for climbing Mt. Everest was literally developed after Clinton Thomas Dent, an author, surgeon, mountaineer, also the president of the Alpine Club suggested in his book Snow Line in 1885 the possibility of climbing Everest.
Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal were the first to reach the summit on May 29, 1953, at around 11:30 a.m. Both of them reportedly buried some candies and a small cross before immediately descending to celebrate becoming a part of history.
In 1970, Japanese climbers carried out expeditions via a new route up the southwest face. But the expedition failed with eight deaths. However, the expedition was also a success in some level as Yuichiro Miura became the first person to ski down Everest from South ridges.
Also, in 1975, a Japanese woman, Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
In 1978, Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner were the first climbers to reach the summit without bottled oxygen.
In 1993, Rebecca Stephens is the first British woman to climb Everest
In 2010, an American, 13 years old Jordan Romero was the youngest to reach the summit of Everest
In 2013, a Japenese, 80 years old Yuichiro Miura was the oldest person to reach the summit of Everest.
Every year many people visit Nepal to be on the top of the world. To climb Mt. Everest first you need a permit from the Nepal Tourism Board. The trekkers should apply through an authorized Nepal travel agency for Everest climbing permits.
However, the travel agency will charge a service fee for the permit application. Apart from the Everest Climbing Permit, the trekkers also need Sagarmatha National Permit.
In 2014, Nepal Tourism Board had issued 334 climbing permits, which were extended until 2019 due to closure. In 2015, more 357 permits were issued, but it was closed again because of the avalanche and earthquake. And these permits were given further two years of extension till
- Expeditions firms have specially request for this extension, which is a great example of hospitality of Nepalese people.
Nonetheless, if trekkers climb without climbing permits, then they’ve to face penalties like fines, mountaineering ban in Nepal for certain years, and 3-4 years of jail.
Financial cost of guided climbs
During May, hundreds of climbers arrive Nepal with the hope that they’ll get the opportunity to stand at the top of the world. But getting there is neither easy nor cheap. An Everest climb requires two-month commitment and to complete it successfully it may cost from $30,000 to $85,000.
Every climber should pay some fixed costs regarding how they climb or who they climb with. Many climbers go with western companies which still depend on the high-altitude workers and it costs around $ 60,000 to $ 65,000. This includes the services of a western guide, climbing permits, food, fuel or any other items necessary for 6-8 weeks, and oxygen bottles.
Likewise, local expeditions will charge you less around $ 35,000. This includes all the services as a western guided tour only difference is climber won’t get traditional western guides.
So, let’s see how exactly it costs for the guided climbs!
Climbing Permits issued by Nepalese Government costs $11,000. In addition, to permit costs, climbers need to pay other climbing related fees. These extra climbing fees include: hiring a liaison officer to join in base camp costs $ 4,000, a basic medical-support fee, and a refundable deposit for the removal of trash and human waste costs $2,500.
Furthermore, traveling to Everest Base Camp also costs both money and time. As climber need to hire porters and spend a night in tea houses as well. So, this may cost up to $4,000 for the one-week long trek to the base camp.
In addition, climbers must pay $5,000 per person for a climbing Sherpa. Also, climbers have to pay for bottled oxygen, that costs up to $3,000. For maintaining the campsites, the climbers pay roughly $2,000.
Besides all this, climbers need to buy high-altitude gear including sleeping bags, boots, and down suits. For all these miscellaneous expenses, the climb can roughly estimate $15,000 to $ 17,000.
Everest law and order
In order to reduce the risk of climbers during the expedition, the Nepalese Government has issued some new regulations in recent years.
- There will be no solo climbing. A guide must accompany climbers
- Before attempting Everest expeditions climbers must have submitted the mountains that are higher than 6,500 m
- Age limits- Climbers must be between 18 and 75 years of age
- Disabled or visually impaired people are totally banned from climbing
Everest religion and rituals
The Sherpa inhabits the Everest region of Nepal. But the word “Sherpa” actually meant “people from the East” and is pronounced as “Shar” means “East” and “Wa” means people.
Many years ago or before mountain climbing become popular, the word Sherpa symbolizes a group of people who migrated to Nepal from Eastern Tibet. Most of the Sherpa peoples belong to the ancient Nyingma or Red Hat, sect of Tibetan Buddhism, but their practice is a mixture of Buddhism and animism.
Sherpa peoples believe in numerous deities and demons who inhabit every mountain. The Sherpa called Mt. Everest as Chomolungma and respects it as the “Mother of the World”.
The monastery of gompa is one of the important aspects of the Sherpa religion. There are around two dozen gompas in the Solu Khumbu region. Out of many monasteries, the Tengboche Monastery holds both spiritual and religious significance. More than 30,000 trekkers visit this monastery for the awesome mountain views and the religious festivals. The popular Mani Rimdu festival shows the colorful aspects of Sherpa’s religious culture.
Well, on the way to Mt. Everest, there are lots of religious shrines like Mani Walls, Chortens, and Prayer Wheels. Mani walls are stones engraved with mantras or short prayers. Chortens are common milestone often wrapped in the strands of Tibetan prayer flags.
Mt. Everest Weather
To climb on the top of the world, of course, the weather is the single most important factor regardless of the equipment or physical conditions. The climate and weather conditions of Mt. Everest is one of the extremes.
At the summit, the temperatures are always above freezing. Whereas, during January the temperatures can drop as low as -60°C. Along with these freezing temperatures, the biggest challenge faced by climbers are hurricane force winds and wind chill. During the winter, the hurricane force winds may reach more than 285 km/h (177 mph). While these winds relax in May and most of the climbers try to attempt the summit.
The Mt. Everest climbing season is spring season, April and May are the best time to climb Mt. Everest. During this month, the climate is dry with pleasant days.
Further, to reach the top of the glorious mountain in the world without fail is somewhat impossible. While attempting to be on the top, many lives have been lost. More than 250 lives of climbers, sherpas, and Porter has faced death in their attempts to the summit.
During the 2015 massive earthquake, ten people lost their lives in Everest Base Camp. As per record from 1924 to 2017, 288 death has occurred. Out of 288 lives, 168 died while attempting to make it to the summit without using supplemental oxygen and 71 on the descent after reaching the peak.
The altitude higher than 8,000 meters is famous as the Death Zone, where oxygens level are too thin and the temperature is too low. The primary cause of death is an avalanche, falls, lack of oxygen, and exposure to extreme cold.
Mt. Everest Trekking Routes
There are two climbing routes up the mountain; the South Col Route and the Northeast Ridge. Both climbing routes are difficult in its own way. But technically, the south route is easy to ascend. The north side is much harder, based on the time spent at high altitude, weather conditions, and the distance traveled to reach the summit.
The South Col Route begins from the base camp located on the south side of Mt. Everest at 5,380 meters. The trek starts with the scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Before you reach base camp you’ve to pass via beautiful settlement of Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, and Gorak Shep. Likewise, you’ll require entire 7-8 day trekking to base camp including proper acclimatization days.
Base Camp to Camp I: Khumbu Icefall
From base camp to camp I, climbers must traverse via the Khumbu Icefall. It stands at the lower end of the Western Cwm, the start of the Khumbu Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Nepal. In this section, trekkers must use ropes and ladders. Even with all these safety precautions, this sections is extremely dangerous. Shifting ice, falling ice, deep crevasses, and avalanches have to take a life of many climbers and Sherpas.
Camp 2 is also known as Advanced Base Camp (ABC). The route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 will take us via the Western Cwm- a U-shaped valley surrounded by Lhotse, Nuptse, and Everest. This is also popular as the “Valley of Silence” as it is well-protected from the wind.
In this section, the surrounding mountains amplify the solar radiation. This area is heavily crevassed- a combination of large crevasses transecting the route and smaller ones hidden with thin snow bridges. Once you reach Camp 2, you’ll get the first glimpse of Everest’s upper slopes.
Camp 3 stands just above Camp 2 or it stands the foreboding Lhotse face- a steep wall of hard ice that rises from the Western Cwm to the South Col. To properly acclimatize, you should climb this section for several times.
Likewise, it is quite demanding as you’ve to kick steps into hard ice and altitude. You should use fixed ropes to protect any falls. But as a result, you have to wait as you would be sharing this with your fellow trekkers. However, the view of Lhotse and Khumbu valley from Camp 3 are truly breathtaking!
After Camp 3, you’ll pass through the wall towards the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur. Things get serious above Camp 3, you may require a bottled oxygen onwards. When you get close to Camp 4, you’ll enter into the “death zone”, where the human body gets to deteriorate.
Once you reach at Camp 4, you’re at the edge of the atmosphere. From here you’ll get a fantastic view of dark, blue sky just above your head.
Camp 4 is quite a large and flat area on the South Col. Once you pass the Yellow Band, the trailhead along the gentle slope leading you to the Geneva Spur. To reach the South Col, you must pass through this huge rock formation.
From Camp 4, you’ll require around 10 to 12 hours to reach the summit. At first, you’ll reach “The Balcony” at 8,400 meters above the sea level. It is a small platform where you can take a short rest for food and water. Also, here you can swap your oxygen bottles.
From the Balcony, you’ll head to the South Summit following the icy steep trail. It can be quite challenging near the South Summit as you’ll be exposed with slabs of smooth rock. From this point, you’ll get incredible views of Lhotse.
Further, you’ll reach one of the most exposed sections of the south side. You’ll have to pass through cornice that traverses between the South Summit and the Hillary Step. However, the route is fixed and wide so rarely you may have some issues.
The Hillary Step is a short section with 40 section of rock climbing, with the help of a fixed rope. The last section of summit climb is from the Hillary Step to the summit. From the summit, you’ll see the Tibetan Plateau and the outstanding views of Mt. Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga.
Being at the top of the world, you can enjoy the 360-degree view before heading down. While descending down you need to be more careful as getting down is as much dangerous as getting up.