Why is Mount Everest called the highest mountain in the world?
When asking about the highest peak in the world, routinely, the answer is Mount Everest. But have you ever pondered why? Is it because of its daunting height or because of its legendary status in mountaineering circles? Essentially, it’s a fusion of both its absolute elevation and its incredibly demanding ascent, which makes Mount Everest – the roof of the world, the highest mountain globally. Let’s delve into the details.
An Overview of Mount Everest
Located in the Himalayas along the Nepal and Tibet border, Mount Everest has the highest altitude of any mountain above sea level. It stands at an impressive 8,848.86 meters according to a 2020 survey. The mountain was first measured in 1856 during the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, reflecting an altitude of 8,840 meters then.
The Intricacies of Height: Above Sea Level vs. Actual Height
When asserting Mount Everest as the highest mountain, it is instrumental to specify that this is regarding its height above sea level. This measurement commences from sea level and terminates at the highest point of the mountain.
In contrast, some mountains might be taller, if you’re measuring from base to summit. For example, the base of Mauna Kea in Hawaii begins beneath the ocean surface and, when calculated from there to its peak, outrivals Mount Everest by more than a kilometer. However, because much of Mauna Kea is underwater, its height above sea level is only about 4,200 meters.
The same principle applies to mountains such as Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska, which has the most prominent vertical rise, but its summit reaches a height well below that of Mount Everest.
Visibility from Space: Another Metric
Mount Everest is not visible from space, contrary to popular belief. The title for the tallest mountain visible from space goes to Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, all due to the Earth’s curvature. However, due to its extreme altitude and location, Mount Everest remains the benchmark in mountain height measurements, thus crown it as the world’s tallest mountain.
In the Realm of the Himalayas
Mount Everest is part of the majestic Himalayan Range, featuring a multitude of peaks stretching across five nations. Though many of these peaks are not as high as Mount Everest, they still contribute to the Himalayas’ reputation as the world’s loftiest mountain range.
Testing the Limits of Human Endurance
Beyond its considerable altitude, Mount Everest has that disquieting capacity to push humans to their absolute limits. The oxygen level at its summit is a third of what it is at sea level, and temperatures can plummet below -60 degrees Celsius. Such conditions test human survival to its boundaries, reinforcing the mountain’s awe-inspiring status.
Consequently, it’s not just the summits’ height that makes Mount Everest the highest mountain in the world. It’s also about the incomparable challenge it presents to those who endeavour to scale it. The dangerous terrain, the extreme weather, the altitude sickness, and the ever-present risk of avalanches combine to make Everest the epitome of high-altitude mountaineering.
FAQs About Mount Everest
How tall is Mount Everest?
Mount Everest is 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet) tall, according to a 2020 survey by China and Nepal.
Why is Mount Everest so famous?
Mount Everest is renowned as the highest peak above sea level, which makes it a coveted conquest for mountaineers worldwide. Additionally, its challenging terrain, extreme weather conditions and cultural significance add to its fame.
Is Mount Everest the most difficult mountain to climb?
While Everest is undoubtedly perilous and physically demanding, other mountains like K2 and Annapurna have higher fatality rates. However, Everest’s significant altitude and harsh conditions, including a lack of oxygen, extreme cold, and unpredictable weather, make it one of the most rigorous climbs.
In which country is Mount Everest located?
Mount Everest straddles the border of Nepal and Tibet (China). The south slope lies in Nepal, while the north is in Tibet.
Was Mount Everest always the highest mountain?
Mount Everest has maintained its status as the highest mountain since its height was first accurately measured in the mid-19th century. However, geological studies indicate that the Himalayan range, including Everest, is still rising due to tectonic activity.
Who was the first person to climb Mount Everest?
The first confirmed ascent of Mount Everest was by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, on May 29, 1953.
Can Mount Everest be seen from space?
No, Mount Everest cannot be seen from space despite its height. Taller mountains closer to the equator, like Mount Kilimanjaro, can be seen due to the Earth’s bulge at the equator.
Being the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest indeed commands respect and awe. It serves as a harsh yet enthralling testament to our planet’s natural power and majesty—a relentless challenge to the indomitable human spirit—a pinnacle of achievement for explorers and adventurers worldwide.