By Cailey Rizzo
Dec 9, 2020
In a joint virtual press conference Tuesday, the two countries announced that Mt. Everest is officially 8,849 meters (29,032 feet) tall, one meter (or three feet) taller than previously considered.
Everest sits on the border of Tibet and Nepal and climbers take the summit from both sides. But over the years, the two governments—and many others—have disagreed about its height.
China has considered Mt. Everest to be 8,848 meters tall since its survey in 2005. But, until recently, Nepal had never conducted its own survey. It had used data from an Indian mission in 1954 and considered Mt. Everest to be 8,847 meters tall.
Facing pressure from Chinese officials for years, Nepalese officials told The BBC that they wanted to put a team together to “set the record straight once and for all.”
“Before this, we had never done the measurement ourselves,” Damodar Dhakal, spokesman at Nepal’s department of survey said. “Now that we have a young, technical team [who could also go to the Everest summit], we could do it on our own.”
The team of four surveyors trained for two years before scaling the mountain. They gathered the data using a leveling instrument, gravity meter, and GPS. As they scaled the mountain, they placed a signal receiver at every station.
The team measured the time it took for the signals to travel up the mountain and then, using trigonometry, converted that measurement into the official height of 8,848.85 meters (29,031.69 feet).
“The project was a matter of national pride for Nepal and a prestigious undertaking for the Nepali government. I feel very proud that we were able to complete it successfully,” Susheel Dangol, Deputy Director General at Nepal’s Department of Survey, told CNN.
The mountain is considered the tallest point on Earth and continues to rise at a rate of about half a meter per century.