Environment

From Where Does Mount Everest Rise?

Earth's highest mountain lies in the Himalayas between Nepal and Tibet, and it's a long way to the top!

5. Description

Mount Everest lies between the South Asian Chinese autonomous territory of Tibet and the country of Nepal, where the peak itself is to be found. Its height is 29,035 feet, or 8,850 meters. Everest has a rocky peak, which all year-round is covered with dense snow. The sedimentary rock forming Mount Everest is composed of shale, limestone, and marble, according to Everest Education Expedition. It’s believed that the mountain was formed over 60 million years ago, after the Indian tectonic plates pushed against the Asian plate. According to National Geographic Facts, the Indian tectonic plates keep moving to this very date, thereby causing the mountain to grow by about another four millimeters per year.

4. Historical Role

The Sherpa people have long considered Mount Everest to be a sacred place deserving reverence, and Westerners have increasingly become fascinated with it since the expansion of European Colonialism in more recent centuries. Starting in the early 1800s, Great Britain dispatched teams of surveyors to map the Indian subcontinent, an effort that was dubbed as the "Great Trigonometrical Survey". Among those who years later joined the team was George Everest. Everest was a geographer who had went to India in 1830 to work as surveyor general there, according to Survey History. Locals in Tibet called the mountain Chomolungma, while those in Nepal referred to it as Sagarmatha. It was later officially named Everest after the very same British surveyor. The first men historically documented as having ascended to the peak were New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and local Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal, who did so on May 29th, 1953. In 2013, Yuichiro Miura at 80 years old, became the oldest man to ever climb to the top of Everest. Miura in fact claimed the mountain several times in his later years, and had been the first to ski upon Everest's slopes when he was still 37 years old.

3. Modern Significance

As the world’s most famous and highest mountain peak, Mount Everest draws tourists from around the world, in the process earning Nepal a good deal of treasured foreign tourist trade and exchange. Nepal Tourism Statistics from 2012 reported the mountain out earned all other Nepalese mountains by bringing in the equivalent of over $3.33 million USD. By 2014, earnings from Mount Everest excursions had climbed to $3.5 million USD. The local guides, dubbed Sherpas, who lead the tourists in climbing various degrees of the mountain, in one season can earn $3,000 to $6,000 in doing so. While this may not seem much by Western standards, this is far better than making less than $600, the country’s average annual income. The Nepalese Sagarmatha National Park surrounding Everest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a favorite with tourists. This park, which hosts many of Mount Everest's visitors, in 2015 brought in earnings of $1.38 million for the Nepalese economy, according to the Tourism Ministry Statistics.

2. Habitat

Mount Everest is tucked within an environment containing a combination of lower, middle, and upper alpine habitats at its different elevation zones, according to Everest Education Expedition. These habitats sustain the life of unique wildlife there, which include the Bengal tiger, Alpine Chough, Yak, Apollos butterfly, Himalayan black bear, blood pheasant bird, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Goral, snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan jumping spider, musk dear, and Himalayan Tahr. Plant species like orchids, the endangered Himalayan Juniper, rhododendrons, and the Himalayan Edelweiss grow across one or more of the three alpine habitats. These are a source of food for the herbivores living within the Sagarmatha National Park, and these and other native plants also help to stop soil erosion and desertification by providing ground cover.

1. Threats and Disputes

In recent years, the pristine ecosystem of Mount Everest has been seen polluted by the accumulated garbage left behind by past climbers. It’s believed the mountain has at least 4 tons of non-biodegradable garbage in the form of tents, sleeping bags, oxygen cylinders, and the corpses of those climbers who have succumbed to the mountain’s extreme weather. In 2015, Eco Everest Expedition, a company that offers climbing tours at Mount Everest, reported having retrieved 15 tons of garbage since 2008. Climbers also face health risks due to lack of solid waste management solutions. That has resulted in accumulation of human feces in the snow glaciers and climbing trails, and increased pollution of the freshwater below. According to Our World, part of the United Nations University, the constant stream of visitors each year has also strained Mount Everest’s fragile ecosystem. As a result, to accommodate the thousands of visitors coming to climb the mountain, more lodges have been built around it, thereby increasing deforestation and the erosion of mountain paths. Global warming has also caused the mountain's glaciers to increasingly melt. It’s also estimated about 240 people have died trying to get to the peak. Furthermore, ongoing geopolitical turmoil, involving China, Tibet, and Nepal alike, contribute to ongoing territorial disputes and humanitarian concerns in and around these Himalayan region.

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