Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. It rises to a height of about 512 miles above sea level. The mountain is in the Himalaya range, on the frontiers of Tibet and Nepal, north of India. Surveyors agree that Mount Everest is over 29,000 feet tall, but disagree on its exact height. A British government survey in the middle 1800's set the height at 29,002 feet. The 1954 Indian government survey set the present official height at 29,028 feet. But a widely used unofficial figure is 29,149 feet. Mount Everest was named for Sir George Everest (1790-1866), a British surveyor-general of India.
Mount Everest is just one of over 30 peaks in the Himalayas that are over 24,000 feet high. Himalaya is a Sanskrit word meaning, "abode of snow". The snowfields which dominate many of the peaks in the Himalayas are permanent. Mount Everest is permanently covered in a layer of ice, topped with snow. The "top" of the mountain at which the elevation was measured can vary as much as twenty feet or more, depending on how much snow has fallen on its peak.
Birth of the Mountains
Mountains aren't just big piles of dirt, they're made of solid rock. Believe it or not, the rocks that make up the Mt. Everst used to be an ancient sea floor. Over millions of years, rivers washed rocks and soil from existing mountains on the Indian subcontinent and nearby Asia into a shallow sea where the sediment was deposited on the floor. Layer upon layer of sediment built up over millions of years until the pressure and weight of the overlying sediment caused the stuff way down deep to turn into rock. Then about 40 million years ago, in a process called "uplifting", the sea floor began to be forced upward forming mountains.
Expedition to Mount Everest
Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa tribesman, reached the top on May 29, 1953, the first men to do so. They were members of a British expedition led by Sir John Hunt. The expedition left Katmandu, Nepal, on March 10, 1953- It approached the mountain from its south side-which most earlier parties had called unclimbable. As the climbers advanced up the slopes, they set up a series of camps, each with fewer members. The last camp, one small tent at an altitude Of 27,900 feet, was established by Hillary and Norgay, who reached the summit alone.
Tibetans call it Chomolungma, which means Goddess-Mother of the World. Many climbers have tried to scale Mount Everest since the British first saw the mountain in the 1850's. Avalanches, crevasses, and strong winds have combined with extreme steepness and thin air to make Mount Everest difficult to climb.