Nepal seeks aid to end China row over Everest height
Gopal Sharma, Kathmandu (Reuters) – Nepal needs money and technical expertise from international donors to measure Mount Everest afresh, officials said on Wednesday, in a move to end a longstanding row with China about the height of the world’s tallest mountain.
More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the mountain that straddles the Nepal-China border since it was first climbed by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in May 1953.
But Nepal is in conflict with its giant northern neighbor over the exact height of the peak first measured in 1856.
Kathmandu uses a measurement made by the Survey of India in 1954, which gives the height as 8,848 meters (29,028 feet), including the snow packed on top of the peak.
But China, which shares the northern side of the mountain, says its mountaineers and researchers climbed Mount Everest in May 2005 and determined its rock height was just 8,844.43 meters (29,017 feet), about 3.7 meters (11 feet) less than the estimates made in 1954.
“We are doing the work of precise leveling for the height up to Namche bazaar but we don’t have enough technical and scientific expertise or funds to measure the peak on our own,” said Krishna Raj B.C., Director General of Nepal’s Department of Survey.
Namche bazaar is the gateway to Mount Everest in Solukhumbu region, 125 km (78 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.
“We therefore need international support in terms of equipment, scientific research and expertise for data analysis. We are preparing a proposal which will be officially submitted to potential donors in measuring the peak,” he told Reuters.
Eight of the world’s 14 tallest peaks, including Mount Everest, are in Nepal or on its borders with China and India.
In 1999, an expedition by the National Geographic Society and Boston’s Museum of Science used satellite-based technology to measure the height of the snow covered peak, and determined the mountain stood 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) high. They said they were unsure about the height of the rock peak.
The director general said Nepal needed equipment that could work in temperatures as low as -70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit).
“We need the support and involvement of internationally known scientists so the findings are acceptable to the global community,” he said.
Some recent climbers say the mountain’s glaciers are shrinking and portions of the trail leading to the summit are losing snow and turning rocky, possibly due to climate change.
Nepal, one of the world’s 10 poorest countries, gets a large chunk of its budget from international donors.