Pandemic delays publication of official height of Mt. Everest

Mt. Everest is seen above the ridge connecting Nuptse and Lhotse. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Nepal and China, until 2010, disagreed upon the official height of Everest. Nepal, which calculates the snow height maintained Mt. Everest is 8848 metres, and China which calculates the rock height maintains Mt. Everest is 8844.43 metres. Furthermore, according to a Nepali Times report, China and Nepal also use different sea-level points which could be a contributing factor. Nepal, uses the Bay of Bengal as its sea-level point, whereas China uses the Yellow Sea.

Nevertheless, in 2010, both countries agreed that both heights, Nepal’s 8848 metres (snow height) and China’s 8844.43 metres (rock height) were correct.

Then, in 2015 the Great Earthquake struck – reigniting the debate of Mt. Everest within Nepal, China, and international circles. Experts argued, Mt. Everest’s height could have shrunk by at least 3 centimetres. Besides, the earthquake, the height of Mt. Everest also constantly changes owing to the movement of tectonic plates.

Then in 2019, the two countries decided to jointly re-measure the height of the world’s tallest mountain. Both countries would independently verify the height of Everest. They also agreed to release their findings together.

In October 2019, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal, the two countries, Nepal and China, agreed to re-measure the height of Mt. Everest [Sagarmatha: Nepali, Qomalangma: Tibetan (Chinese)] – the world’s tallest mountain that straddles the Nepal-China border.

Mt. Everest straddles the Nepal-China border. (Image: Google Maps)

Interestingly, this was the first time the height would be measured by countries in which the mountain actually lies – earlier, the mountain’s heights were measured by US, European, or Indian surveyors.

Duly, after signing the agreement, both countries set to work. Nepal sent its team to the summit in 2019 itself, while Chinese surveyors scaled Everest from the northern side in May, 2020.

They would have been able to release their findings – hadn’t the pandemic struck.

According to reports, Nepal has completed its findings, and is waiting for its Chinese counterpart to ascertain the height.

After China completes its findings, both countries will compare their results, and will officially publish the new official height of Mt. Everest.