Situated in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and China, Mount Everest holds the title of the tallest mountain in the world. Also known as Mount Chomolungma, its measurement is generally given as 29,029 feet (8,848 meters), the highest mountain above sea level.
Originally designated as Peak XV, the mountain’s height was first established as 29,002 feet (8,840 meters) by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India in the year 1856. Although the Tibetans had been calling the mountain Chomolungma for centuries, the Royal Geographical Society officially gave the mountain a proper English name in 1865, at the behest of India’s then-British Surveyor General Andrew Waugh. The mountain was named after Waugh’s predecessor, Welsh surveyor and geographer Colonel Sir George Everest. Interestingly, Everest himself actually objected to the idea, reasoning that his name cannot be written or pronounced in the Hindi dialect. Nevertheless, Waugh’s proposal was accepted, and the mountain henceforth became known to the world as Mount Everest.
Mount Everest’s elevation was first established at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) by a 1955 Indian survey. A subsequent measurement by the Chinese in 1975 reiterated the height at 29,020.30 feet (8,848.13 meters). However, both instances did not make the measurements on the rock head, but rather on the snow cap. American mountaineer and photographer Bradford Washburn would later head up an American Everest Expedition on May 1999. With the use of a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit anchored to the mountain’s highest bedrock, the elevation of the rock head was measured at 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) and the snow cap elevation was higher by 3 feet (1 meter). While Nepal does not officially recognize this figure, it is widely accepted by many.
The height of Mount Everest that is officially recognized by China and Nepal is 29,029 feet, but there have been attempts to make an even more precise measurement of the mountain. The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping had spent months attempting to measure and calculate the mountain’s specific height, and announced on October 9, 2005 that Everest measured 29,017.16 feet (8,844.3 meters). Purported to be the most accurate measurement so far, this particular height was based on the rock’s highest point, disregarding the ice and snow that covered it. Aside from this, the depth of the snow and ice was measured at 11 feet (3.5 meters), which concurs with the net elevation of 29,029 feet (8,848 meters). However, since the thickness of snow and ice tends to vary as time passes, it is impossible to establish the snow cap’s definitive height.