I guess the mountain’s been crouching a little this whole time.
Mount Everest is well-regarded as one of the largest mountains in the world, as well as one of the largest things in the world in general. To climb Mount Everest is to prove yourself a king among mountaineers, which is probably why so many people try to climb it at once sometimes that you have to wait on a line. But while it is a commonly accepted fact that Mount Everest is really honking huge, there’s been some debate in recent years over precisely how huge it is. As of today, this debate has come to an end.
As Mount Everest sits right on the border between China and Nepal, the upkeep of its statistics is a joint operation between both countries. For a long time, though, the commonly accepted height of the mountain was 8,848 meters, as reported by an Indian expedition team in 1954. In the last two decades, more teams have ventured to Everest’s peak, some from international organizations like National Geographic, others direct representatives from China, each producing differing measurements.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with representatives from the Nepalese government, and they all agreed it was time for both countries to settle on a single, definitive height for the mountain. Another expedition was conducted this past spring (which was easier, since nobody was traveling due to the pandemic), and during a virtual conference held today, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali made the official announcement: Mount Everest is 8,848.86 meters tall, larger than both China and Nepal’s previous benchmarks.
Nepal’s climbing community, which holds Everest and efforts to research it in high regard, was happy to have a definitive statistic to rely on. “This is a milestone in mountaineering history which will finally end the debate over the height and now the world will have one number,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.