Everest in 2016. Photo credit: Mário Simoes.
Everest in 2016; photo credit: Mário Simoes

Is Everest Taller Than We Think?

After 2 years of surveying efforts, Nepal — and China — will announce the new official height of the world’s tallest mountain.

Mount Everest is 29,029 feet (8,848 m) tall — that has a nice ring to it. But what if it’s even taller? The mountain, which sits in the Himalayas in Nepal bordering Tibet, has shifted over the past decade. For years, Nepali officials at the Land Reform Ministry and Survey Department have been working to find out for sure how tall the mountain stands.

Is it possible the mountain has shifted? Of course. Mt. Everest lies on the Indian tectonic plate, which shifts a few millimeters every year. The direction in which the plate shifts, however, is dynamic and varies each year.

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The department conducted four different methods of geological surveys, reported the Kathmandu Post: precise leveling, trigonometric leveling, gravity survey, and GNSS survey.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent trip to Nepal, both countries signed an agreement that they would announce the new height together. “Mount Sagarmatha/Zhumulangma is an eternal symbol of the friendship between Nepal and China,” read the joint statement.

What’s the Official Height Now?

The true height today recognized by Nepal is 8,848 m, but that measurement was taken in 1954. In 1975, China measured the mountain as 8,848.13 m. Then in 1999, an American mountaineer from the Boston Museum of Science used GPS to declare Mt. Everest a new height of 8,850 m.

In 2005, China remeasured and declared a height of 8,844.43 m. Since then, the country of Nepal has been on a mission to measure the current height of the peak on their own.

Mt. Everest/Sagarmatha’s official new height will be announced later this week.

Mary Murphy
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Mary is based in Denver, Colorado, but frequently travels abroad. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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