China, Nepal end Everest height row in rock and snow

Click to follow
The Independent Online

China and Nepal have found a solution to a longstanding dispute over the height of Mount Everest in the giant peak's rock and snow.

The world's highest mountain lies on the border between the two countries and they have disagreed for years over its exact height, which Nepal puts at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) - nearly four metres more than the measurement used by China.

Officials from the two neighbours reached a compromise at talks in Kathmandu this week by agreeing the two measurements referred to different things - one to the height of Everest's rock and the other to the height of its snowcap.

"The Chinese side - led by Li Qingyuan - accepted Nepal's claim that the snow height of Mount Everest is 8,848 metres, while the Nepali side recognised the Chinese claim that the rock height of the mountain is 8,844.43 metres," a senior official at Nepal's Department of Surveys told the Kathmandu Post daily.

Thousands of people have climbed Mount Everest since the first ascent in 1953 by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, but its exact height has been a source of dispute ever since the first measurement was made in 1856.

The broadly accepted height of 8,848 metres was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955, and measured the mountain's snow cap, rather than the rock beneath it.

Geologists believe Everest is growing as India is gradually pushed beneath China and Nepal by the shifting of the continental plates.

In May 1999 an American expedition used GPS technology to measure a height of 8,850 metres and this figure is now used by the US National Geographic Society, although it has not been officially accepted by Nepal.