People can’t help but be fascinated by Mt. Everest. Known as the highest summit on Earth, approximately 4,000 people have attempted to climb the mountain, but only 660 hikers have been successful. Approximately 142 individuals have died while bracing the mountain’s intense conditions.
There is much more to learn about the historic mountain. Read these three Mt. Everest facts that will certainly provide a new perspective on everyone’s favorite mountain.
How tall is it?
In 1955, a team of Indian surveyors visited the mountain (located at the border of Nepal and Tibet) to record an official measurement of the mountain’s height. They probably didn’t expect to realize Mt. Everest is that tall. Stretching 29,029 feet above sea level, Mt. Everest is equivalent to the size of almost 20 Empire State Buildings.
However, throughout the past 60 years, geologists have recorded new altitudes. In 1999, a GPS device recorded the altitude could be 29,035. The most recent recording in 2005 determined the mountain could only be 29,017. So, which measurement is correct? Today, the official height of the mountain remains at 29,029 feet, but that’s likely to change in upcoming years.
Due to earthquakes and natural disasters, Mt. Everest has changed immensely since 1955. Geographic measurements have recorded that the mountain is possibly shrinking in size. But that doesn’t stop eager hikers from visiting the mountain.
About the climbers
Everyone knows climbing Mt. Everest is a great challenge. Anyone who reaches the top deserves more than a pat on the back. Only 660 hikers have been successful in climbing the mountain, but there are a number of individuals who have decided to climb the mountain more than once. For example, Kami Rita Sherpa has climbed Mt. Everest on 22 separate occasions, giving him the record for the most successful attempts.
Mountain guide Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed the mountain nine times, holding the record for most attempts by a woman. American Dave Hahn, a guide for RMI Expeditions, holds the record for most summits by a non-Sherpa. He has climbed the summit 15 times.
For many people, reaching the mountain’s summit can take several days with various stops along the way to rest and recover. Climbing Mt. Everest is an emotional rollercoaster, and it must be handled with tender loving care in order to succeed. However, a few talented hikers broke records for reaching the summit in blazingly fast times.
For example, in 2003, Lakpa Gelu Sherpa managed to hike from the mountain’s Base Camp to the top of Mt. Everest in just 10 hours and 56 minutes. Italian mountaineer Hans Kammerlander climbed the mountain in 16 hours and 45 minutes. Both men are more than deserving of a congratulatory hug.
Climbing Mt. Everest is an emotional rollercoaster
Finally, you don’t have to be a certain age to climb Mt. Everest. Most of the hikers are experienced climbers in their 30’s and 40’s. However, the record for the oldest climber to reach the summit is held by Japan’s Yuichiro Miura, who successfully climbed the mountain at 80 years old. The youngest climber was American Jordan Romero, who accomplished the same feat at just 13 years old.
A sacred place
Mt. Everest isn’t just admired by hikers; the mountain is seen as a sacred place. In the Buddhist culture of the Himalaya, Everest is known as Chomolungma, translated to “Goddess Mother of Mountains.” Because it is a sacred place, hikers must ask for permission before stepping foot on the mountain. This takes place during a formal puja ceremony—traditionally held at the Base Camp prior to when hikers start their brave voyages.
The puja is performed by a Buddhist Lama, and two monks, who build an altar out of stones. They ask for good fortune and protection over the climbers, and they also bless the climbers’ equipment. Participating in the puja is a superstitious tradition. For the Sherpa people, they won’t begin climbing the mountain until they know they have been blessed. Perhaps that’s why they have been so successful in climbing the summit.
A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:
Learn more about James Whittaker, the first American to successfully climb Mt. Everest.
Learn about how Mt. Everest’s size might be questionable to many scientists.