The highest mountain in the world, located on the Nepalese border with Tibet in the Himalayas, is 8,848.86 meters, officials from both countries announced on December 8, 2020. This is less than a meter higher than the previously recognized height.
The agreement marked the end of a longstanding debate about the exact dimensions of the mountain known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Qomolangma in Tibet. Over the years the two countries – as well as other governments around the world – have provided different estimates of the height of the mountain.
“The project was a matter of national pride for Nepal and a prestigious endeavor for the Nepalese government. I am very proud that we were able to successfully complete it,” said Susheel Dangol, deputy director general of Nepal’s Ministry of Surveying, told CNN. “Nepal and China processed the collected data together and achieved the result.”
The Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi took part in the virtual press conference.
In 2005, a Chinese survey of the mountain estimated it to be around 8,844 meters (approximately 29,015 feet).
However, since the research was not approved by Nepal, the country did not recognize it as an official height. At the time they used a number of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), which was the results of a 1955 Indian survey.
In 2015, several scientific studies suggested that the height of the mountain may have changed following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Two years later, the Nepalese government embarked for the first time on its own long and arduous mission to re-measure the altitude.
During the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal last year, the two countries agreed to jointly announce the new height and called the summit “an eternal symbol of friendship between Nepal and China”. China began measuring from the Tibetan side of the mountain after Xi’s visit.
China sent a team of eight to conduct its own survey. Since then, both sides have analyzed their results.
The new elevation was calculated using a combination of geodetic data received from three mechanisms: level, gravity meter, and GPS. The team placed a signal receiver at each station and measured how long it took for signals to be transmitted between the receiver and the satellite. It then converted that measurement to height.
Sugam Pokharel reported from Kathmandu. Rhea Mogul was from Hong Kong.