Mt. Everest rises 29,035 feet above sea level, making it the tallest mountain on earth. It is found in Asia in the Himalayan mountain range on the border between Nepal and Tibet.
Everest was named for Sir George Everest, the first person to record its height and location. Tibetans call it “Chomolangma” (Goddess Mother of the Snows); the Nepalese call it “Sagarmatha” (Mother of the Universe).
There are two main routes for climbing Everest: the northwest ridge in Tibet and the southeast ridge in Nepal. In 1921, British explorers investigated the Tibetan route. At that time, the Nepal border was closed to foreigners. In 1924, two British climbers attempted to reach the top of Everest, but they never returned. This route was tried until 1950 when China took control of Tibet and closed its borders.
When Nepal opened its border in 1949, climbers began using the southeast ridge. On May 29, 1953, Everest was finally conquered by Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa guide, using this route.
In 1975, Junko Tabei of Japan became the first woman to reach its summit. In 1978, Reinhold Messner of Italy climbed it without taking extra oxygen tanks, and in 1980 he climbed it alone. In 2003, 15-year- old Mingkipa Sherpa of Nepal became the youngest person to reach the top and 70-year-old Yuichiro Miura of Japan became the oldest. Miura summited again in 2013 at the age of 80. Local Sherpa guides have set many other records. By the 60th anniversary of Hillary’s ascent, over 3,500 climbers had reached the summit, and over 200 people had died on the mountain. Many have died on the di cult descent, but new climbing technology makes death less likely.
The Sherpa people have benefited economically from the many people who come to climb Everest. Most foreign climbers employ one or two Sherpa guides, and the average climbing team spends $200,000 on guides and supplies while in Nepal.
Author: Jolene Gear and Robert Gear