7 Things You Didn’t Know About Everest
What’s in a name?
Everest, previously known just as Peak XV, was confirmed to be the highest mountain in the world in 1856. It was named after Sir George Everest (a previous Surveyor General of India) due to the fact that Tibet and Nepal were sealed off at the time, and so the local names couldn’t be discovered. In Tibetan it is known as Chomolungma (mother goddess of the universe), while the Nepalese call the mountain Sagarmatha – goddess of the sky.
To put that in perspective…
The summit of Mount Everest stands at 8,848m – the equivalent of twenty Empire State Buildings, just below the cruising altitude of a jet. The Burj Dubai will be the tallest building on Earth once it is completed, but Everest will still be over twelve and a half times its height. Even Everest Base Camp (5,300m), the staging point for attempts on the summit, is higher than any of the Rocky Mountains.
Big, but not so tough
It may be the highest mountain in the world, but Everest is not the most dangerous. About 3000 people have made it to the top of Everest, and over 200 never made it back to the safety of Everest Base Camp – it is estimated that about 9 percent of Everest climbers do not survive their journey. This may sound like a daunting percentage, but compared to some other mountains, this is tame stuff – K2, known as the Savage Mountain, claims a quarter of its climbers, and Annapurna I has a staggering 40 percent mortality rate due to its frequent avalanches.
Rest in peace…
Anyone who is climbing from Everest Base Camp to Everest’s summit must prepare themselves for the gruesome sight of the climbers who never made it back. At the higher altitudes, the corpses do not decompose due to the cold, and removing them is too dangerous. It is believed that over 120 bodies remain on the mountain, many of which are visible from the standard summiting routes. Anyone on an Everest Base Camp trek needn’t worry – all the bodies are further up in the so called “Death Zone”.
The fastest way down…
There are plenty of speed records associated with Everest, but one of the most impressive is that of the fastest descent. In 1988, Jean Marc Boivin of France went off the summit in a paraglider, making his descent in just eleven minutes.
You may kiss the bride
Couples are always trying to find ways to make their wedding day memorable, but few would think of holding the ceremony at 29,000 feet. On May 30th 2005, the Nepalese couple Mono Mulepati and Pem Dorje Sherpa became the first people to tie the knot at the highest point on Earth. Presumably, they had to find a Buddhist priest who was also a master mountain climber to perform the ceremony!
You’re never too old…or too young
Keen mountain climbers who hope to one day go beyond Everest Base Camp and on to the summit itself may be embarrassed to discover the age of Everest’s youngest summiteer. Temba Tsheri made it to the top in 2001 aged just 15. Then again, it’s never too late to make it to the top – Min Bahadur Sherchan was 76 when he reached the summit.