It is 60 million years old, yet so young, new and refreshing. It is enveloped in ice, always freezing ( on an average -36C in winters and -19C in summers), yet it welcomes all its visitors with warmth. It is the tallest in the world, yet so humble. It unfolds life’s biggest lessons to all mountaineers who make an effort to reach its peak. Yes, it is none other than Mount Everest, which sits in the lap of Himalayas, in the Mahalangur section. Here are top ten amazing facts about this tallest mountain:
1. Die hard.
Climbing Everest is not everybody’s cup of tea; a lot of mountaineers lose their life on their way to summit. Data depicts that from 1924 to 2013, 249 people lost their lives on Everest, out of which 162 were westerners and 87 were sherpas. 1996 was the worst year on Everest in terms of deaths because in that season 15 climbers died including 9 in the same incident. Another scary year was as recent as 2012, when 11 climbers lost their lives. And hundreds of corpses are assumed to be still on the mountain. It is said that 1 in ten successful summits end in death and the country which has lost maximum people on mountain is Nepal with 46 deaths. Furthermore, the Khumbu ice fall is considered to be the most dangerous areas of the mountain due to the unpredictable movement of the icefall. The major causes of death on the mountain include a fall, avalanche, frost bite, hypothermia and altitude sickness. However it’s not impossible to reach the summit, if you have made enough preparations and trained your mind in body to face the challenges. So, climb on!!
2. “Rum Doodle Everest Submitter Board” – a unique Everest tradition.
Climbing Everest has many parts which include training, trekking, and then there is this tradition unique to the tallest mountain in the world- signing the white board at Rum Doodle Restraunt in Kathmandu. There are two white boards hanging behind the bar filled with signatures including sign of Hillary, messener and a few others who have created history! The final stage of climbing Everest is to register your feat with Ms. Elizabeth Hawley, known for decades as the keeper of all summiters’ record. It’s well known that if she said you summited; you summited, Otherwise you are out.
3. Mountains too grow!!
Sounds strange?? But it is true that Everest grows bigger in size every year. Each year the mountain grows taller by 4mm as a consequence of the upward thrust generated by two opposing tectonic plates. Moreover, the rock at the summit of Everest is marine limestone and would have been deposited on the seafloor around 450 million years ago.
4. With and without supplement oxygen.
All of us are well aware that at a high altitude human body requires supplement oxygen, because as we go high oxygen levels drop. There is 66% less oxygen in each breath on the summit of Everest than at sea level. However, some of the courageous or rather fittest climbers made it happen without the supplement oxygen. The first climbers to summit Everest without bottled oxygen were Italian Rienhold Messner with Peter Harber in 1978. In general, climbers start using bottled oxygen at 26000 ft. it makes 3000ft. difference in how they feel. so at 27,000 feet, they feel like they are at 24,000 feet .
5. First tweet from the Everest
The British record is held by Kenton Cool, who has now climbed to the summit of Everest 11 times. He sent the first tweet on one of his many trips to the top, he tweeted: “Everest summits no 9! 1st tweet from the top of the world thanks to a weak 3G signal”. Now Everest is mapped by Google too, though it cannot give you the images of summit. In 2011 a team captured images for Google maps and to capture these images they spent 12 odd days walking more than 70 miles to reach Everest base camp. It’s amazing how these days everything is available at the click of a mouse, even the Mount Everest.
6. First ones to reach the summit.
Several attempts were made to reach the summits but the first successful expedition was made in 1953. In 1953, climber Edmund Hillary from new Zealand and Sherpa tenzing Norgay from Nepal were the first ones to reach the summit of Everest. However, tenzing Norgay had tried it 6 times to reach the peak before successfully reaching the summit with Hillary. Sir Edmund Hillary’s son peter Hillary has also reached the summit in 1990. And they became the first pair of father and son to do so, though Tenzing’s son also reached summit few years later. Till now peter has climbed the Everest 5 times.
7. Its Differentiating Characteristic: Height.
Until the great trigonometric survey of India (1856) no one knew that it is the tallest mountain in the world. Then, Kanchenjunga was considered to be the tallest mountain. Everest is 8848 meters (29029 ft.) above the sea level and fifth tallest mountain measured from the centre of the earth. An Indian mathematician radhnath sikander was the first person to put a quantitative figure to the height of the mountain. He made his calculations using trigonometric methods. ‘Burj khalifa’ a building in Dubai, broke the record for both world’s tallest building and world’s tallest man-made structure in 2010, with the height of 829 meters. Everest is 10 times taller than this tallest man-made structure. If this does not sound tall enough, then imagine 643 double decked busses one upon the other. That is how tall Mount Everest is.
8. The Name Game.
There is a history belonging to the name of the mountain. In 1856, when the great Trigonometric Survey of British India begun they designated peaks based on roman numerals and they called Everest as ‘peak 15’. Later in 1865, it was renamed by Royal Geographical Society, upon the recommendation of Andrew Waugh, in the honor of retired Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest. Thus peak 15’s official name became ‘Mount Everest’. Though in Nepal and Tibet people still call it by its regional names. In Nepal Everest is called ‘Sagarmatha‘ meaning ‘forehead of the sky’ and in Tibet Everest is called ‘chomolangma’ meaning ‘the mother of the universe’. However rest of the world calls it ‘mount Everest’.
9. The Record Setters.
There are endless records that have been set on this mountain which in itself is a record setter of tallest mountain. Here I mention a few amazing records. The first woman to summit Everest was Junko Tabei of Japan in 1975. 18 years later Rebecca Stephens became the first British woman to reach the peak of Everest. The oldest person to reach the peak was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013. The oldest woman to reach the top was Japanese Tamae Watanabe, age 73, in 2012 from the north. The youngest person to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13, on May 23, 2010 from the north side. The youngest person to summit from the south side was Nepali Nima Chemji Sherpa on May 19, 2012. Thus no one is behind in making records, neither women nor elder people. The charm of Mount Everest has mesmerized all. Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi both hold the record for most summits with 21, the most recent one in 2013. The British record is held by Kenton Cool who has now climbed to the summit of Everest 11 times. An Indian woman who lost her leg after she was thrown from a moving train two years ago she has become the first female amputee to climb Everest. And here is a couple who got married on the summit, on May 30, 2005, Prem Dorjee Sherpa and Moni Mulepati became the first couple to get married at the summit.
Every year hundreds of climbers try to reach the summit of Everest, some succeed, some fail. Astonishing are the numbers of those curious and courageous souls who made an effort. About 3,668 mountaineers have summited Everest once and another 2,540 have reached the summit multiple times. Thus, total 6,208 summits of Everest have been made till June 2012. 1974 was the last year in which no one climbed the Everest summit. There are two most popular routes for climbing the mountain, one is Nepal side route and another is Tibet side route. The Nepal side is more popular with 3877 summits as compared to 2331 summits from the Tibet side. Women are as courageous as men are, 363 women have summited till June 2012. 178 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through June 2012, about 2.8%, though all of us know at high altitudes it is tough to breathe without supplemental oxygen.