By Strange Sounds
Apr 4, 2021
The situation for Everest is very different. High in the Himalayan Mountains, Everest and K2 are just the two highest peaks of an astonishing series of mountain ranges that encompass 2.5 million square miles of elevated land in the Tibetan Plateau.
And because Everest sits on a contested boundary between Nepal and China, measuring it in any way immediately becomes a matter of politics. It’s here, rather than in the simple bump and grind of crust and erosion, that Everest has gained 30 feet overnight.
International politics aren’t the only politics involved. Everest is a multimillion-dollar business in an area where that money is critically needed. Measuring the world’s tallest mountain to an exact number has significance to the entire industry that has sprung up around climbing it, rescuing people from it, and caring for the terrain.
Do you measure the snow at the very top, or do you count the highest rocky point? And when the summit spans two nations that don’t have a great relationship, whose measurement counts more?
The first measurement was made in the 1850s, and Nepal’s penultimate measurement dated back to the 1950s. China was working with a much newer number, but there was a catch, the New York Post reports:
“China and Nepal announced Tuesday that it is officially 29,031.7 feet tall. That is 13 feet higher than China’s last calculation 15 years ago — a discrepancy blamed on the fact that China only determined the rock height of the summit and didn’t include the snow and ice on the peak.”
There has never been a single measurement that both nations agreed to, which makes this new one a similar political milestone, or more of a 5.5-milestone. Leaders from China and Nepal pressed matching buttons to reveal the official height of Everest. And to bring the two ideas together, the entire Himalayan range was formed by the subduction — the pushing under — of a previously major and separate tectonic plate.
Of course, the next step is to find how quickly Everest is growing and eroding. The Himalayas are one of the other youngest ranges on the planet, meaning there could be some very interesting isotopes to take a look at for those who reach the very top. [PM] More Information Here!!