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Mount Everest: Highest Mountain in the World

Fast Facts About Mount Everest

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Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is in Nepal and Tibet.

John Wang/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
George Mallory and Sandy Irvine disappeared high on the Northeast Ridge in 1924.

The long Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest was attempted by several British expeditions in the 1920s and 1930s.

Photograph courtesy ChinaReview.com
Mount Everest: Highest Mountain in the World

Mount Everest, straddling the Nepal and Tibet border, is the highest of the Seven Summits and the world's highest mountain.

Photograph © Getty Images

Elevation: 29,035 feet (8,850 meters)
Prominence: 29,035 feet (8,850 meters); most prominent mountain in the world.
Location: On the border of Nepal and Tibet/China, Asia
Coordinates: 27°59′17″ N / 86°55′31″ E
First Ascent: Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay (Nepal)on May 29, 1953.

Native Name for Everest

Mount Everest is also called Chomolangma, meaning “Goddess Mother of Snows” in Tibetan and Sagarmatha, meaning "Mother of the Universe" in Nepalese. The mountain is sacred to the native people.

Named for George Everest

British surveyors named the peak for George Everest (properly pronounced “I-ver-ist”) a Surveyor General of India in the mid-nineteenth century.

Current Elevation

Everest's current elevation is based on a GPS device implanted on the highest rock point under ice and snow in 1999 by an American expedition. The mountain is higher than 21 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.

Surveyors Add 2 Feet to Height

Mount Everest was once surveyed at exactly 29,000 feet but the surveyors didn't think people would believe that so they added two feet to its elevation, making it 29,002 feet.

Peak Still Rising

Mount Everest is rising from 3 to 6 millimeters or about 1/3 inch a year. Everest is also moving northeastward about 3 inches a year.

Glaciers Shape Mt. Everest

Mount Everest was dissected by glaciers into a huge pyramid with three faces and three major ridges on the north, south, and west sides of the mountain. Five major glaciers continue to chisel Mount Everest—Kangshung Glacier on the east; East Rongbuk Glacier on the northeast; Rongbuk Glacier on the north; and Khumbu Glacier on the west and southwest.

An Extreme Climate

Mount Everest has an extreme climate. The summit temperature never rises above freezing or 32° F (0° C). Its summit temperatures in January average -33° F (-36° C) and can drop to -76° F (-60° C). In July, the average summit temperature is -2° F (-19° C).

What's Best Time to Climb?

The best time to climb Everest is in early May before the monsoon season.

Two Normal Routes

The Southeast Ridge from Nepal, called the South Col Route, and the Northeast Ridge or the North Col Route from Tibet are the usual climbing routes.

First to Climb without Supplemental Oxygen

In 1978 Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Messner later described his summit experience: "In my state of spiritual abstraction, I no longer belong to myself and to my eyesight. I am nothing more than a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits." In 1980 Messner made the first solo ascent, which was via a new route on the mountain's north side.

Largest Climbing Expedition

The largest expedition to climb Mount Everest was a 410-climber Chinese team in 1975.

Total Number of Ascents 

As of January, 2014, a total of 6,971 ascents of Mount Everest have been made by 4,042 different climbers. The extra 2,829 ascents are multiple ascent by climbers; many of them are Sherpas.

Total Deaths through 2013

Through mid-2014 a total of 265 climbers (162 Westerners and others and 103 Sherpas) have died on Mount Everest between 1924 and 2014. Of those deaths, 156 occurred on the Nepalese side of the mountain and 109 on the Tibetan side. Deaths commonly occur from exposure to weather, avalanches, icefall, and altitude-related illnesses. Read more: Death on Mount Everest: How Climbers Die on Mount Everest

Most on Summit in a Day

The most climbers to reach the summit in a single day was 40 on May 10, 1993. 

Most Tragic Day on Mt. Everest

The single most tragic day on Mount Everest was April 18, 2014, when a massive avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides in the Khumbu Icefall above Everest Base Camp in Nepal while they were fixing a route through the deadly icefall. 

Safest Climbing Year

The safest year on Mount Everest was 1993 when 129 climbers reached the summit and only 8 died.

Most Dangerous Year

The least safe year on Mount Everest was 1996 when 98 climbers summitted and 15 died. That season was the Into Thin Air fiasco documented by author Jon Krakauer

Longest Stay on Summit

Sherpa Babu Chiri stayed on the summit of Everest for 21 hours and 30 minutes.

First Ascent by American Woman

Stacey Allison from Portland, Oregon made the first ascent by an American woman on September 29, 1988.

Country with Most Deaths

The country with the most deaths on Mount Everest is Nepal with 47 (as of 2009).
 

Fastest Descent

Jean-Marc Boivin of France made the fastest descent from the summit of Mount Everest to the base by swiftly paragliding down in 11 minutes.
 

First Ski Descent

Davo Kamicar of Slovenia made the first ski descent of Mount Everest on October 10, 2000.

Bodies Still on Everest

Over 160 bodies of dead climbers are on the peak.
 

Jumping Spider

A jumping spider lives up to 22,000 feet on Mount Everest.
 

Helicopter Lands on Summit

A helicopter piloted by a Frenchman supposedly made a hover landing on the summit in 2005.

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