Think “Everest” and – for most people – three important facts come to mind. Himalayas. China and Nepal and Big. Well here are 8 Interesting Facts about Mount Everest that you would really like to know!
Yes, Everest is the highest mountain in the world, found on the border of China and Nepal. But if you’re really serious about this iconic place, or you’re genuinely thinking about some day adventuring there yourself, then there’s a heck of a lot more you need to know.
Get to grips with these lesser-known and, frankly, far more interesting facts about the world’s highest mountain. Then, whet your whistle for your next Bucket List adventure.
Locals don’t call it Everest
To the people of Nepal, the mountain is known as Sagamartha. This means “goddess of the sky”, while Tibetans call it Chomolungma, or “goddess mother of the world”.
Over here, we call it Mount Everest for the leader of a British surveying team, Sir George Everest. George recognised it as the highest mountain in the world back in 1841.
It wasn’t actually until 1856 that we started calling it Everest though. That’s when Sir George’s successor and British Surveyor General of India, Andrew Waugh finally calculated a height and dubbed it “Everest” as a nod to his predecessor. Before that, it had simply been called Peak XV!
People can’t agree on Everest’s exact height
Everest’s first official height came off the back of a survey done by Andrew Waugh in 1856. Funnily enough, he calculated it to be exactly 29,000ft, or 8,840m. He didn’t want people thinking he’d simply rounded the height to a thousand though, so the mountain was reported to stand at 29,002ft instead!
(Now you know why they say Waugh was the first person to put two feet on top of Everest.)
Ninety-nine years later, an Indian surveying team used a more modern technique and calculated the height to be 8m more. The true height, 8,848m above sea level.
This measurement was confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975, which found the height to be 8848.13m. This was the height recognised by both Nepal and China until 2020.
Then in 2020, a new survey was made to determine if the height of Everest has changed due to the 2015 earthquake. During this study they found the height to be 8848.86m tall and reported that Everest is growing about 40cm a century! Mind blown.
It’s not the furthest point from the Earth’s centre
You’d think the top of the world’s highest mountain would be the furthest point from the very core of the Earth, but – it’s not! Prepare yourself for the explanation (and don’t feel bad if you don’t understand it, we don’t really either)…
Apparently Earth is an “obligated spheroid”. This means it bulges at the equator about 21km radically compared to at the North and South Poles. Whatever this means, it makes another summit the furthest point from the centre. And that mountain is Chimborazo, which rises 6,310m out of Ecuador in South America. Weird, right?
Couples have got married at the peak
Yep, this has really happened.
Serious climbers from Nepal, Moni Mulepati and Pem Dorjee, got hitched in a 10-minute ceremony at the Everest summit in 2005. And in 2017, a couple from California did the easier version and exchanged nuptials at Base Camp!
The summit is “doable” for the young and the old!
In 2010 an American 13-year-old called Jordan Romero reached the summit with the help of his father, stepmother and three Sherpas. He’s the youngest person ever recorded to make it all the way to the top.
Then at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got Yuichiro Miura. An 80-year-old from Japan who reached the summit in 2013! He actually broke his own “oldest Everest climber” record that he’d set 10 years before at the ripe(ish) age of 70.
Everest might be over 60 million years old!
In 1924, an explorer called Noel Odell found marine fossils on Everest which suggest that the area was originally covered by ocean. Limestone and sandstone at the summit were found to be submarine sedimentary rocks that were formed around 450 million years ago…
But geologists reckon Everest has only existed for about the last 60 million years. When the Indian Plate started being subducted by the Eurasian Plate (which formed the Himalayas).
There aren’t many climates harsher than Everest’s
You don’t need to know much more than that the warmest it ever gets at the summit is -20°C… Pretty cold. The final 3,000m or so of the mountain are capped with snow and ice all year round, and strong winds happen all the time. In other words, make sure you choose your clothing carefully, correctly and certainly not cheaply when it’s time to pack!
The harsh climate and lack of oxygen 6,000m up means that there are absolutely zero living species around – not an animal, not even a plant!
Above 8,000m, dead bodies aren’t an uncommon sight
Sorry for the morbid subject, but it’s worth knowing before you set your sights on the summit. The region above 8,000m above sea level on Everest is considered the “death zone”. The oxygen concentration up there is only ¼ of the oxygen you’ll get at sea level, so most people can’t survive more than a few minutes without receiving extra oxygen.
The death rate for climbers is about 2%, which makes Everest the 7th deadliest mountain in the world. So far about 300 people have died up there, and since it’s so hard to bury or transport dead bodies back down in such a low-oxygen environment, the late climbers generally get left where they died. Spooky? Yes. A grounding reminder of the dangers of attempting the summit? Most certainly.
If you can handle these facts and you’ve still got the stomach for the summit, you might just have the makings of an Everest conqueror yet. And if you’re ready to take the first step towards reaching the peak, head to the Asia section of our website to check out our Base Camp trips here.