The government of Nepal has announced that it will remeasure the height of Mt. Everest in an effort to settle a dispute with China. This new survey is expected to take up to two years to complete and will likely provide the most accurate measurement of the height of the mountain ever.
Back in 1955 a team of Indian surveyors, using the best instruments available at the time, recorded the height of the mountain as 8848 meters or 29,029 feet. Since then, that has been the official measurement recognized by the Nepali government, despite the fact that both the Chinese and an American survey have offered differing numbers in the year since. Chinese surveyors argue that the snow on top of Everest shouldn’t be included in the measurement, and as a result, they list the mountain as being 8844 meters (29,015 ft) tall. On the other hand, a 1999 U.S. survey using GPS devices pegged Everest at 8850 meters (29,035 ft), a figure that is used by National Geographic when covering the Himalayan peak.
Mt. Everest falls along the border of Nepal and Chinese-controlled Tibet. In recent months, the two countries have been holding talks to discuss issues that have arisen along their common borders, with officials on both sides of the table continually using differing heights when referencing the mountain. This small point of contention has prompted Nepal to re-measure the height of the summit, which is a source of great pride for the smaller nation.
In order to gain the most accurate measurements possible, climbers will carry sophisticated GPS systems to the summit, where measurements will be taken in three different locations. Because of the challenges involved with scaling the world’s tallest mountain, officials say that it could take upwards of two years before they have a new reading on the height. Considering how sophisticated GPS tools are these days, this latest measurement is expected to be the definitive answer as to just how tall Mt. Everest really is.