Where is Mount Everest located?

Mount Everest (8,848m), the tallest mountain in the world, symbolizes natural grandeur and is also a testimony to human aspiration. As the highest mountain in the world, Everest draws adventurers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts from all over the globe. This blog is an attempt to inform and familiarize you with Everest.


Several Names of Everest

The Nepali name of Everest is Sagarmatha, but this word comes from Sanskrit. “Sagar” means sky, and "matha", means “head”, so Sagarmatha means the head of the sky. Some claim that Sagarmatha means the “goddess of the sky”. However, we could not confirm how Sagarmatha means goddess of the sky.

This name highlights the mountain's majestic and towering presence, dominating the skyline and symbolizing the connection between earth and the heavens. Sagarmatha is not just a physical landmark but also a spiritual and cultural icon for the Nepali people.

In the Western world, the mountain is most commonly known as Mount Everest, a name given in honor of Sir George Everest, the British Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843. The name was proposed by Andrew Waugh, Everest's successor, despite Sir Everest, himself having never seen the peak. This designation was part of the British effort to catalog and map the Indian subcontinent's geographical features during the 19th century.

In Tibet, Everest is called Chomolungma, which means "Goddess Mother of the World", or "Mother of the Universe." This name underscores the mountain's sacred status among the Tibetan people, who regard it as a divine being and a symbol of immense power and endurance. The Tibetan name, like its Nepali counterpart, reflects deep cultural and spiritual connections to the mountain.


Geographic Extent and Formation

The Himalayan range is one of the most majestic and geographically significant mountain ranges, spanning five countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China (Tibet), and Pakistan. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, towering peaks, and profound cultural significance, the Himalayas are often called the "Roof of the World."

Everest is a part of the Himalayas, which stretches over 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) from west to east and forms a massive barrier between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau.

The Himalayas separate the Tibetan plateau from the Indian subcontinent. Geologists maintain that the formation of the Himalayas goes back to millions of years ago.

Scientists maintain that 225 million years ago, there was a supercontinent called Pangaea, which consisted of all the land on Earth. As a part of Pangea, India was once a big island near Australia, separated from Asia by the Tethys Ocean. When Pangaea started to break up around 200 million years ago, India began moving northward towards Asia.

Around 80 million years ago, India was still drifting towards Asia at about 9 to 16 cm per year. This movement slowed to 6 cm per year about 40 million years ago, marking the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates. 

The Eurasian Plate is one of the major tectonic plates on Earth, encompassing most of Europe and Asia. It extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the boundary with the Pacific Plate in the east. This massive plate includes several notable regions and landforms, such as the entire landmass of Europe, the bulk of Asia (excluding the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of eastern Russia), and stretches into the Arctic Ocean.

The collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates caused the Eurasian plate to crumple and form the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Even today, the Indian plate is still moving at 67 mm per year, causing the Himalayas to rise about 5 mm annually and making the region prone to earthquakes.

The Himalayas form a global hub for adventure tourism, attracting trekkers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Popular trekking routes include the Everest Base Camp trek, the Annapurna Circuit, and the Markha Valley trek. Mountaineering is also a significant draw, with Everest and other high peaks presenting formidable challenges to climbers.

Geologists maintain that Mount Everest grows at around 4 millimeters per year due to the ongoing tectonic activity between the Indian and Eurasian plates. This gradual rise is a testament to the dynamic nature of Earth's crust and the relentless geological forces at play.

The Himalayas are  home to several national parks and protected areas that preserve their natural beauty and biodiversity, such as:

  • Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal): A UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Everest region.
  • Great Himalayan National Park (India): Known for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Jigme Dorji National Park (Bhutan): The second-largest protected area in Bhutan.

Cultural and Ecological Significance of Himalayas 

The Himalayas are not just a geographical marvel but also a cultural and ecological treasure. The range is home to diverse ecosystems, ranging from subtropical forests at lower elevations to alpine meadows and permanent ice and snow at higher altitudes. This diversity supports a wide array of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as the snow leopard, red panda, and Himalayan blue sheep.

Culturally, the Himalayas hold immense significance for various religions and communities. The region is home to numerous monasteries, temples, and pilgrimage sites, including the Tengboche Monastery (Nepal) - a major spiritual center for Tibetan Buddhism,  Kedarnath and Badrinath (India) - important pilgrimage sites for Hindus, and Paro Taktsang (Bhutan), also called the Tiger's Nest Monastery, a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site for Bhutanese Buddhists.

The Himalaya-Tibet region is the source of fresh water for more than one-fifth of the world's population, highlighting its importance.

 

The Recognition of Everest as the Highest Peak

Mount Everest was officially recognized as the world's highest peak in 1856 by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. The mountain's height was initially estimated at 29,002 feet (8,839 meters). The recognition of Everest as the highest peak captured the imagination of explorers and scientists alike.

The Survey of India again carried out another survey from 1952 to 1954 and came up with another number- 8,847.73 m (29,028 ft). Then in 1975, the Chinese measurement team determined the height to be  8,848.13 m (29,029.30 ft). The most recent survey took place in 2020 with a joint team from Nepal and China, and both agree that the height of Everest is 8,848.86 meters (29,031 feet 8.5 inches).

 

The First Ascent

The recorded history tells us that the British mountaineers were the first to attempt Everest. Since then Nepal government did not let the British enter Nepal, questioning their intentions, so they tried to climb Everest using the north ridge route from the Tibetan side. In 1922, the British used the north Col and reached 8,320 meters, and this was the first time any human had reached more than 8,000 meters.

On 8th June 1924, Gorge Mallory and Andrew Irvin were seen heading to the summit, but there are no confirmations if they succeeded. 

However, the first recorded and verified summit success happened in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand using the southeast ridge.   

How to Get to Everest

To reach Everest, most travelers fly to Lukla, a small town in the Khumbu region. However, during the peak trekking seasons of spring (March, April, and May) and autumn (September, October, November), flights to Lukla are often rerouted from Manthali Airport in Ramechhap due to traffic congestion at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport.

To catch a morning flight from Manthali to Lukla, you need to leave Kathmandu around 1 AM for the five-hour drive to Manthali Airport. You must fly early in the morning because afternoon winds in Lukla make landing flights difficult.

In the off-peak months, you can fly directly to Lukla from Kathmandu. Upon arriving in Lukla, most trekkers head to Namche Bazaar, a bustling Sherpa town that serves as a gateway to Everest. From Namche Bazaar, there are several routes to Everest Base Camp, including paths through the Gokyo region.

However, the most popular trek, a classic trek to Everest Base Camp, typically takes about 14 days, offering a more immersive experience of the stunning Himalayan landscape.

If you are short on time, you can choose a helicopter tour to Everest Base Camp that you can complete in a single day. 

 

Settlements Around Everest

The region around Everest is dotted with numerous Sherpa settlements, the most notable being Namche Bazaar, which serves as the gateway to the high Himalayas. Namche is a bustling town with markets, teahouses, bars, hotels, cafes, and lodges catering to trekkers and climbers. Other significant settlements include Tengboche, known for its beautiful monastery, and Dingboche, a popular acclimatization stop.

The nearest settlement to the Everest Base Camp is Gorak Shep. Most trekkers who trek to the Everest Base Camp spend the night at Gorak Shep so that they can enjoy the magnificent sunrise from Kala Pathhar Viewpoint.

 

Sagarmatha National Park

Mount Everest lies within Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans 1,148 square kilometers. The park is renowned for its unique biodiversity, encompassing various flora and fauna adapted to the high-altitude environment. Wildlife such as snow leopards, red pandas, Himalayan tahrs, and a wide range of bird species inhabit this pristine wilderness.

 

Nearby Mountains

Everest does not stand alone. The Everest region is home to several other towering peaks, each with its allure. Notable neighboring mountains near Everest include:

  • Lhotse (8,516 meters): The fourth highest mountain in the world, closely linked with Everest
  • Makalu (8,485 meters): The fifth-highest mountain in the world, known for its steep pitches and sharp edges
  • Cho Oyu (8,188 meters): The sixth-highest mountain in the world, popular among climbers for its relatively moderate climbing routes compared to other peaks over 8,000 meters
  • Nuptse (7,861 meters): Known for its impressive South Face, a prominent feature in many photographs of Everest
  • Ama Dablam (6,812 meters): Often considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, renowned for its striking, pyramid-like shape

 

Conclusion

Mount Everest stands as a pinnacle of natural wonder and human achievement. Its location, geological formation, and the journey to its base camp offer a unique blend of adventure and scientific intrigue. Whether you're a seasoned climber or an enthusiastic trekker, the allure of Everest and the surrounding Himalayas is undeniable, promising an unforgettable experience in one of the world's most majestic landscapes.

If you want to appreciate Mount Everest up close, we invite you to Everest Base Camp Trek