The highest mountain in the world just increased the margin of its lead by an additional 2.8 feet (.86 meters). China and Nepal presented a new official figure of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.69 feet) above sea level.

Everest stands on the border between China and Nepal and is climbed by parties from both sides. Previously, China and Nepal had disagreed on how to measure the mountain- should the highpoint be measured to the highest point of rock OR should it be measured all the way through the layer of snow that sits on top of that rock? Up until the recent announcement, China and Nepal each maintained a different official height.

Alpenglow founder Adrian Ballinger remarked: “The best thing about the new height announcement is that China and Nepal worked together to agree on a height. I hope that in the future they continue to work together on issues of environmental degradation and safety to keep Everest the sacred and pristine place we all want it to be.”

 

Is the Height Debate Settled For Good?

Yes and no- while the new height of 8,848.86 meters is likely to stick around for many years to come, keep in mind that all mountains’ height continually change over time (anyone remember learning about tectonic plates in seventh-grade science class?) Everest and the Himalayan range are a result of the Indian and Eurasian plates slowly colliding into each other and pushing the mountains upwards. As mountains grow slowly over time, a well-placed earthquake can suddenly knock the height back down. The height of Everest, and any mountain for that matter, is an ever-shifting number, albeit by a typically very slow process.

 

How do you Measure a Mountain?

Of the few teams that were allowed to climb in spring 2020 (the vast majority of expeditions were canceled due to the pandemic) one Chinese team was helping to survey Everest’s height earlier this year. Measuring the height of Everest involves all kinds of specialized tools, some old and some new.

All these efforts by Nepal and China contributed to the new official height measurement:

– Implating a satellite navigation marker on the summit
– Using using ground-penetrating radar to measure the amount of snow and ice that sits on top of its highest rock
– Using a Chinese-made Beidou constellation of navigation satellites
– Using laser-equipped theodolites, a version of these instruments was first used to gauge the mountain’s height in 1856 by measuring angles using trigonometry.

 

Everest isn’t the tallest mountain in every category

The new measurement of the highest mountain in the world is based on Everest’s height above sea level, but keep in mind that Everest doesn’t win “the tallest mountain” in every contest.

If you measure from the center of Earth’s core, rather than sea level, Chimborazo in Ecuador becomes the tallest mountain in the world. Chimborazo gets a height boost due to its proximity to the equator and the fact that the earth bulges out around the middle and deflates towards the north and south poles. Our team runs trips to Ecuador to climb Chimborazo as part of the Ecuador Climbing School multiple times per year.

 

Alpenglow teams prepare for Everest 2021

Everest 2021 has gotten the green light!! After being forced to cancel Everest 2020 along with nearly every international expedition in 2020 so far, we couldn’t be more excited to get our program cranking again. Our team is moving forward on expeditions to Everest, Ojos del Salado, Kilimanjaro, and Ecuador all in the coming months. A lot could change between now and then, but we’ve received positive indications from the Chinese Tibetian Mountaineering Association that we’ll be able to run our Everest expeditions in May 2021.

Canceling Everest last spring was a huge blow to the entire team- our climbers, Sherpa, and staff. We are stoked and grateful that many of our 2020 Everest team members have stuck with us to try again during the 2021 season. Logistics are coming together for our 2021 teams and there a couple more open slots on the expedition.

 

A team of climbers on a crisp morning near the summit of Mt EverestEverest North Side Rapid Ascent

For information on Everest North Side Rapid Ascent check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email at info@alpenglowexpeditions.com. We hope to climb with you soon!