The highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest. Its peak rises to 8,848 m (29,028 ft 9 in) – the highest point in the world. It is situated in Nepal.
First known as Peak XV, it was discovered to be the world’s highest mountain in 1856 by the Survey Department of the Government of India, from theodolite readings taken in 1849 and 1850. Its height was calculated to be 8,840m 29,002ft.
The mountain was named after Col. Sir George Everest (UK), who was the Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843, and who, in fact, pronounced his name ‘Eve-rest’ as opposed to ‘Ever-est’. Mount Everest is also known by the Tibetan name Chomolungma (Goddess Mother of the World) and by the Nepali name Sagarmatha (Forehead in the Sky).
Many human triumphs and tragedies have been played out on Everest’s slopes. George Mallory (UK) was one of the first to lead an expedition to climb the peak, in 1921. He perished not far from the summit on his 1924 expedition and his body was discovered in 1999. The challenge to climb the highest mountain has not waned since the peak was first conquered in 1953 by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (Nepal) and Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand).
Mount Everest has been the inspiration for many Guinness World Records: from the simple fact of being the world’s highest peak to being the venue for the world’s highest-altitude concert. Many of the records achieved on Everest are broken regularly. As the world’s highest peak, Everest will always attract adventurous climbers and records will continue to be broken on its slopes.
Despite being the highest peak on earth, Everest is NOT the tallest mountain? No – at 8,848 m (29,029 ft), Everest is the highest mountain on Earth – in that it reaches the highest altitude – but the tallest is actually Mauna Kea in Hawaii, USA. You can only see 4,205 m (13,796 ft) of it (the rest is underwater), but from its submarine base in the Hawaiian Trough, it reaches up for a total of 10,205 m (33,480 ft).
Table of Contents
Goddess of the sky – Everest fact file:
Name English: Mount Everest; Tibetan: Chomolungma (“Goddess Mother of Mountains”); Nepalese: Sagarmatha (“Goddess of the Sky”).
Elevation 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.
Location Himalayas, Nepal.
Coordinates 27°58’60N, 86°55’60E.
Summit temperature -20°C to -35°C (-4°F to -31°F).
Summit wind speed Up to 280 km/h (174 mi/h); an average of one hurricane every four days.
29 May 1953 – Mount Everest (8,848 m 29,029 ft) was first climbed when the summit was reached by Edmund Percival Hillary (New Zealand), and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. The successful expedition was led by Col. (later Hon. Brigadier) Henry Cecil John Hunt.
16 May 1975 – Junko Tabei (Japan) (b. 22 Sep 1939) became the first female to reach the summit of Mount Everest
8 May 1978 – Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Peter Habeler (Austria) made the first successful ascent of Mt Everest without supplemental oxygen on 8 May 1978. This feat is regarded by some purist mountaineers as the first ‘true’ ascent of Everest, since overcoming the effects of altitude (i.e. the low oxygen content of the air) is the greatest challenge facing high-altitude climbers.
20 August 1980 – Reinhold Messner (Italy) was the first to successfully climb Mt Everest solo, reaching the summit on 20 August 1980. It took him three days to make the ascent from his base camp at 6,500 m (21,325 ft), and the climb was made all the more difficult by the fact that he did not use bottled oxygen.
10 May 1996 – On 10 May 1996, a severe blizzard on Mt. Everest claimed the lives of eight climbers and caused serious injuries to more than 20 others. The climbers, from the USA, India, Japan and New Zealand, were surprised by 145 km/h (90 mph) winds which sent temperatures plummeting to -40°C (-40°F).
23–24 May 1996 – Hans Kammerlander (Italy) completed the fastest ever ascent of Mt Everest on the northern side, making the climb from base camp to the summit in 16 hr 45 min.
May 1999 – Babu Chhiri Sherpa of Nepal completed a stay of 21 hours at the summit of Mt. Everest (8,848 m; 29,029 ft) without the use of bottled oxygen in May 1999.
25 May 2001 – Erik Weihenmayer (Hong Kong) was born with retinoschisis, an eye condition that left him totally blind by the age of 13. Despite this, on 25 May 2001, he reached the summit of Mount Everest, the first – and so far only – blind man ever to have done so. Erik’s other notable feats include his 2002 completion of the Seven Summits – climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents of the world. Erik is also an accomplished rock climber, skier and paraglider.
21 May 2004 – Pemba Dorje Sherpa (Nepal) climbed from Base Camp to the summit of Mt Everest in a time of 8 hr 10 min, the fastest ever ascent of the world’s highest mountain.
2 June 2005 – Lakpa Sherpa (Nepal) successfully reached the summit of Mt Everest for the fifth time on 2 June 2005. She made the climb with her husband, George Dijmarescu (USA), who was himself completing his seventh ascent of the world’s tallest mountain.
11 May 2011 – Apa Sherpa (Nepal) reached the summit of Mt Everest for the 21st time on 11 May 2011, the most times anyone has ever successfully climbed the world’s highest mountain.
19 May 2012 – Congestion is a serious issue on the world’s highest mountain, with 3,721 climbers having reached the summit since it was conquered in 1953.
On 19 May 2012, an unprecedented 234 climbers ascended Everest and reached the summit – the most on a single day.
Apa Sherpa’s 21 ascents:
Apa Sherpa (Nepal) reached the summit of Mt Everest for the 21st time on 11 May 2011, the most times anyone has ever successfully climbed the world’s highest mountain. His climbs to date have been:
- 10 May 1990: International
- 8 May 1991: Sherpa Support
- 12 May 1992: New Zealand
- 7 Oct 1992: International
- 10 May 1993: USA
- 10 Oct 1994: International
- 15 May 1995: American on Sagarmatha
- 26 Apr 1997: Indonesian
- 20 May 1998: EEE
- 26 May 1999: Asian-Trekking
- 24 May 2000: Everest Environmental
- 16 May 2002: Swiss 50th anniversary
- 26 May 2003: Commemorative US expedition
- 17 May 2004: Dream Everest
- 31 May 2005: Climbing for a Cure
- 19 May 2006: Team No Limit
- 16 May 2007: SuperSherpas
- 22 May 2008: Eco Everest
- 21 May 2009: Eco Everest
- 21 May 2010: Eco Everest
- 11 May 2011: Eco Everest
Want to join the Five Mile High Club?
Want to reach the highest point on earth? Well, if you have 60 days (and around £40,000 ($62,000)) to spare, here is a typical route – one of many – to the top of the highest mountain on Earth, via the south-east ridge:
BASE CAMP 5,380 M (17,700 FT): Acclimatize here for two weeks. When you’re ready, begin your hike to Camp I at 3 a.m., before dawn, when the ice is at its most solid.
CAMP I 6,056 M (19,900 FT): Garden step-ladders are used to cross deep crevasses in the Khumbu Icefall; if you survive the treacherous terrain, Camp I will provide much-needed relief.
CAMP II 6,500 M (21,300 FT): Temperatures between Camps I and II can get blisteringly hot; beware of thin snow bridges spanning 60-m (100-ft) drops.
CAMP III 7,470 M (24,500 FT): A fixed-rope climb leads to a small ridge and Camp III; high risk of avalanche here; and beware of traffic jams with other climbers!
CAMP IV 7,920 M (26,000 FT): It might be time to crack open the bottled oxygen after conquering the “Yellow Band” and “Geneva Spur” – the two energy-sapping barriers between Camp III and IV.
SOUTH SUMMIT 8,690 M (28,500 FT): You will see your first proper view of the top from this rest point; it may be only a mile (1.5 km) away, but it can take a further 12 hours to get there.
EVEREST SUMMIT 8,848 M (29,029 FT): Beyond the “Balcony” you tackle the “Hillary Step” and the “Summit Ridge”… then you’ve made it – the highest point on Earth, from which point you’ll be treated to views like this: