10 Facts About Mount Everest You May Not Know
Over six decades ago, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made history by becoming the first men to ever reach the peak of Mount Everest. The desire to climb this enormous mountain has not declined since then. We hear many triumphant and tragic stories about the people who attempt to climb Mount Everest; however, many of us don’t know about the mountain itself. Here are a few facts to consider.
1. Arachnophobics May Want to Reconsider Climbing Mount Everest
Spiders will get to you, even if you’re at the top of the mountain. Though living things barely have enough air to breathe, spiders exist in the upper levels of the mountain – and we cannot hide from them! Euophrys omnisuperstes (which literally mean “standing over everything”) or Himalayan jumping spiders, will make you jump during your expedition. They hide in the crevices of the slopes of the Mountain. Climbers can spot them in altitudes as high as 6,700, or 22,000 feet. They are considered to be one of the Earth’s highest permanent residents.
Now you may wonder what the spiders eat up there. These tiny spiders feed on insects that the wind blow up the mountain. There are some unidentified grasshopper species that were collected during the 1924 British Everest Expedition that are displayed at the British National History Museum.
2. It is Climbed by Two Sherpas…21 Times!
Two men, Apa Sherba and Phurba Tashi, currently hold a joint record for the most times one has climbed Mount Everest. Both managed to reach the summit 21 times. Purba reached the top three times in a period of just one year in 2007, while Apa reached the top almost every year from 1990 until 2011.
Apa noticed the changes that occurred on the mountain over the period of years that he climbed it. He had seen the effects global warming had on the mountain, thus he climbed it to raise awareness on climate change. He is concerned about how the melting of snow and ice has exposed the rocks, and made the mountain harder to climb. He is also worried about his fellow Sherpas, whose homes are at risk of being destroyed because of potential flooding due to the warming of glaciers.
3. There Was a Brawl on the Mountain
You might think that teamwork and sportsmanship prevail on these expeditions. Unfortunately, Mount Everest expeditions aren’t always harmonious. In 2013, three climbers, Ueli Steck, Jonathan Griffith, and Simone Moro, found themselves in a fight with some Sherpas who tried to stop them from climbing the mountain.
The climbers accused the Sherpas of blocking their way, and causing an avalanche that hit their comrade. The Sherpas denied this. The conflict became violent. The two sides were kicking and punching each other. Moro claimed that one of the Sherpas threatened his life. The fight could have ended fatally, but Melissa Arnot, an American Climber, warned the three to flee before the Sherpas could gather more allies and stone them to death. A Nepal Army official stood witness and established a peace agreement, which both parties signed.
4. It has about 450 million years of history.
Even though the Himalayan Mountains were only formed 60 million years ago, Mount Everest’s history goes further back. The rocks at the summit were once below sea level, and was part of a larger sedimentary layer 450 years ago.
The ocean floor plates move and push themselves together, pushing the surface higher at a rate of 11cm per year. The upper part of Mount Everest was found to contain marine fossils of ancient oceanic creatures and shells that once roamed the ocean. This proved that the mountain used to be below sea level. This discovery was made by explorer Noel Odell in 1924. The first specimens were brought down by Swiss and American climbing teams in 1956 and 1963, respectively.
5. We Are Not Exactly Sure How High it is…
We currently don’t know the real height of Mount Everest. The Chinese claimed it was 8,844 meters, or 26,016 feet, while Nepal said it was 8,848 meters, or 29,029 feet. China insisted that the mountain should only be measured by rock height, while Nepal included the snow layer at the top of the mountain, which is what is what most international communities agreed to. The two countries decided that the official height would be 8,848 meters.
6. …Because it is Still Growing.
New research has opposed to both Nepalese and Chinese heights because the mountain’s height grows every year. In 1994, It was discovered that Mount Everest grows about 4 millimeters annually. The Indian subcontinent and the rest of Asia collided and formed the Himalayas. Both plates are still moving towards each other, thus increasing the mountain’s height.
This lead to researchers from the American Millenium Expedition placing a satellite device below the summit to measure the growth of the mountain. Even though a counter movement that decreases the mountain’s height exists as well, the upward force is still higher. The modern technology used in AME’s measurement is deemed more accurate, and has led to a new official height of 8,850 meters, 2 meters higher than the China-Nepal agreed height.
7. Mount Everest has Multiple Names.
The mountain was named “Everest” because Andrew Waugh, a 19th century British surveyor, could not find a commonly used name. The Tibetans call it by the ancient name Qomolangma, which means “Goddess Mother of Mountains”. The Nepalese refer to it as Sagarmatha, which means “Forehead in the Sky”, and is part of the Sagarmatha National Park.
After an intensive search, Waugh was unable to make a decision on the name. He just then named the mountain after General George Everest, an Indian surveyor and head of the British team who first surveyed the mountains. The General refused the honor, but British people officially changed the mountain’s name from “Peak XV” to “Everest” in 1865.
8. Human Traffic is Quite Heavy on the Mountain.
More and more people try to climb the mountain every year, despite the fact that is an expensive task. Images of hundreds of climbers lining up was captured in 2012 by Ralf Dujmovits, a German mountaineer. It made him decide to turn back due to bad weather and the long line. There was a two-hour wait just to see one landmark near the summit. 234 people reached the peak in just half a day, but the expedition killed four people. This incident raised concerns about the climb. Officials have added a fixed rope to ease the traffic, and there is a possibility of permanent ladders being installed in the future.
9. It is One of the Dirtiest Mountains.
Everest is not only is littered with the dead bodies of unfortunate climbers, is also the home of an estimated 50 tons of waste, brought about by the large number of climbers. This waste includes food wrappings, cans, oxygen bottles, climbing equipment, and even human feces. We see countless photos of climbers on the mountain, but usually not what they leave behind.
Thirteen tons of waste are collected by Eco Everest Expedition, a group that has been trying to clean the mountain every year since 2008. The Nepalese government also helps to clean the mountain by enforcing a rule that forces climbers to collect 8kg of waste on their way down the mountain, or else they will lose their deposits of $4,000 beginning in 2014.
Some artist turned 8 tons of the trash on the “Everest 8848″ art project into 75 art pieces. The trash was carried down by 65 porters and the artist turned the trash into various sculptures to raise awareness for the issue.
10. Mount Everest is Not the Tallest Mountain, nor does it Have the Highest Peak.
Mauna Kea holds the record as the tallest mountain in the world; it is about a mile taller than Everest. This is due to the fact that almost half of its height is submerged in the water. The inactive Hawaiian volcano stands 10,200 meter or about 33,465 feet from its base on the ocean floor.
Mount Everest is also not the highest peak if you measured it from the Earth’s center. A mountain in Ecuador, Chimborazo, although only 6,267 meters above sea level, is the highest point with regards to the exact center of the Earth. It is just a degree south of the equator, and as Earth is much wider in the middle, it has a much higher sea level than Mount Everest.