Mount Everest Just Got 2 Feet Taller, New Measurements Unveil

It looks like Mount Everest got lucky in 2020.
Chris Young

It sounds like one of those tricky-sounding pub quiz questions with a deceptively simple answer: Mount Everest is 2 feet (0.86m) taller than it used to be, but it won't make things any more difficult for climbers.

Why's that? Until now, Nepal and China had differed on whether to include the snow cap on top of Mount Everest as part of the official measurement.

As the BBC reports, officials at Nepal's foreign ministry and department of survey now confirmed that both countries co-ordinated to agree on the new height, which coincides with Nepal's original measurement.


Mount Everest reaches new heights

Mount Everest's new height is 29,032 ft (8,848.86m). China previously held the official measurement to be 29,017 ft (8,844.43m), almost four meters lower than Nepal's.

As the mountain stands on the border between China and Nepal — climbers ascend the mountain from both sides — the measurement had previously been a point of contention between the two countries.

Both countries agreed to jointly announce the new measurement during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu last year, the BBC reports.

Why the different height measurements?

To break it down, until the newfound agreement, Chinese officials stood firm in stating that the official measurement only shows Mount Everest's rock height. Nepalese authorities, on the other hand, argued that the snow on top of the summit should be part of the official figure.

The new measurements also come as part of a new survey, the first of its kind to be carried out by the country of Nepal — the 29,017 ft (8,848m) height Nepal had been using for Mount Everest was determined by the Survey of India in 1954. 

For the new survey, four Nepalese land surveyors spent two years training before heading to the summit. During their climb, the team conducted a number of advanced formulas calculations — using 12 different lower peaks looking up at the Everest summit — to help calculate the height.

For the measurement, the surveyors also used a GPS device that was installed on the summit by a team from China in 2005. The new measurement, agreed upon by China and Nepal, includes the snow cap, making it higher than China's previous figure. 

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