Life Majesty of Mount Everest hits new heights
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Majesty of Mount Everest hits new heights

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China and Nepal have jointly announced a new official height for Mount Everest, ending a discrepancy between the two nations.

The new height of the world’s highest peak is 8848.86 metres (29,031.7 feet), which is slightly more than Nepal’s previous measurement and about four metres higher than China’s.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Nepalese counterpart, Pradeep Gyawali, simultaneously pressed buttons during a virtual conference on Tuesday and the new height flashed on the screen.

The height of Everest, which is on the border between China and Nepal, was agreed on after surveyors from Nepal scaled the peak in 2019 and a Chinese team did the same in 2020.

There had been debate about the actual height of the peak and concern that it might have shrunk after a major earthquake in 2015.

The quake killed 9000 people, damaged about one million structures in Nepal and triggered an avalanche on Everest that killed 19 people at the base camp.

There was no doubt that Everest would remain the highest peak because the second highest, Mount K2, is only 8611 metres (28,244 feet) tall.

Everest’s height was first determined by a British team around 1856 as 8842 metres (29,002 feet).

But the most accepted height has been 8848 metres (29,028 feet), as determined by the Survey of India in 1954.

In 1999, a National Geographic Society team using GPS technology came up with a height of 8850 metres. A Chinese team in 2005 said it was 8844.43 metres because it did not include the snow cap.

A Nepal government team of climbers and surveyors scaled Everest in May 2019 and installed GPS and satellite equipment to measure the peak and snow depth on the summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal later that year and the leaders of the two countries decided that they should agree on a height.

A survey team from China then conducted measurements in the spring of 2020 while all other expeditions were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nepal’s climbing community welcomed the end of confusion over the mountain’s height.

“This is a milestone in mountaineering history which will finally end the debate over the height and now the world will have one number,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.