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Mount Everest

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Mount Everest, mountain peak in the Himalayas of southern Asia, considered the highest mountain in the world. Mount Everest is situated at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau (Qing Zang Gaoyuan), on the border of Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Mount Everest was known as Peak XV until 1856, when it was named for Sir George Everest, the surveyor general of India from 1830 to 1843. The naming coincided with an official announcement of the mountain's height, taken as the average of six separate measurements made by the Great Trigonometrical Survey in 1850.

Most Nepali people refer to the mountain as Sagarmatha, meaning “Forehead in the Sky.” Speakers of Tibetan languages, including the Sherpa people of northern Nepal, refer to the mountain as Chomolungma, Tibetan for “Goddess Mother of the World.”The height of Mount Everest has been determined to be 8,850 m (29,035 ft). 

The mountain’s actual height, and the claim that Everest is the highest mountain in the world, have long been disputed. But scientific surveys completed in the early 1990s continued to support evidence that Everest is the highest mountain in the world. In fact, the mountain is rising a few millimeters each year due to geological forces. Global Positioning System (GPS) has been installed on Mount Everest for the purpose of detecting slight rates of geological uplift..

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Deadly Day on Mount Everest 

In May 1996 a chain of amateur climbers and professional guides wait their turn to ascend the Hillary Step, a rock face, 12-m (40-ft) tall, (center) just 30 m (100 ft) below the summit of Mount Everest. This photograph was taken by guide Scott Fischer on what became one of the deadliest days ever on Mount Everest. Fischer and several other climbers perished just hours later when a sudden, severe storm trapped several climbing parties high on the mountain. In all, 12 climbers died. Some survivors and other observers believe that the tragedy was due in part to crowded summit conditions—there were simply too many climbers, especially less-experienced climbers, trying to summit Mount Everest at the same time.

The climate of Mount Everest is naturally extreme. In January, the coldest month, the summit temperature averages -36° C (-33° F) and can drop as low as -60° C (-76° F). In July, the warmest month, the average summit temperature is -19° C (-2° F). At no time of the year does the temperature on the summit rise above freezing. In winter and spring the prevailing westerly wind blows against the peak and around the summit. Moisture-laden air rises from the south slopes of the Himalayas and condenses into a white, pennant-shaped cloud pointing east; this “flag cloud” sometimes enables climbers to predict storms.

When the wind reaches 80 km/h (50 mph), the flag cloud is at a right angle to the peak. When the wind is weaker, the cloud tilts up; when it is stronger, the flag tilts down. From June through September the mountain is in the grip of the Indian monsoon, during which wind and precipitation blow in from the Indian Ocean. Masses of clouds and violent snowstorms are common during this time. 

From November to February, in the dead of winter, the global southwest-flowing jet stream moves in from the north, beating the summit with winds of hurricane force that may reach more than 285 km/h (177 mph). Even during the pre- and post-monsoon climbing seasons, strong winds may arise suddenly. When such storms develop, sand and small stones carried aloft, as well as beating snow and ice, pose problems for climbers.

Precipitation falls mostly during the monsoon season, while winter storms between December and March account for the rest. Unexpected storms, however, can drop up to 3 m (10 ft) of snow on unsuspecting climbers and mountain hikers.Base Camp, which serves as a resting area and base of operations for climbers organizing their attempts for the summit, is located on the Khumbu glacier at an elevation of 5,400 m (17,600 ft); it receives an average of 450 mm (18 in) of precipitation a year.

Sir Edmund P. Hillary 

New Zealand mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the first two men to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, and return. Hillary and Sherpa tribesman Tenzing Norgay reached the 8848 m (29,028 ft) summit on May 29, 1953. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Hillary, a Royal Air Force veteran, for the feat.

Tenzing Norgay 

 In 1953 Nepalese mountain climber Tenzing Norgay and New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary were the first people to scale the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 8,850 m (29,035 ft).

Reinhold Messner  

During a 17-year period from 1969 through 1986, Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner reached the summit of the world’s 14 highest mountains, all of which are above 8,000 m (26,247 ft). Messner’s other accomplishments include becoming the first person to climb 8,848-m (29,028-ft) Mount Everest alone and without bottled oxygen in 1980, and skiing 2,400 km (1,490 mi) across Antarctica in 1990.