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Nepal to remeasure Mount Everest to keep China happy


Mount Everest (C) from the window of a Druk Air aircraft during a flight from Bangkok to Paro.


Ed Jones

Nepal will remeasure the height of Mount Everest to settle a long-standing dispute with its neighbor, China.

The mountain, which straddles the China-Nepal border, measured 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) in 1955, after a survey by India.

But China disputes this, the BBC reports, saying that Everest should be measured by its rock height, not its snow height, as the snow makes the mountain measure four meters higher.

The Guardian writes that "cartographers, surveyors and mountain climbers have been struggling since 1856 to calculate the exact height of Mount Everest."

The world's tallest mountain was named after British surveyor George Everest in 1856, when a trigonometric survey put its height at 8,840 metres (29,002 feet).

Meanwhile, a 2005 survey by China's state bureau of surveying and mapping calculated the rock height of Everest at 8,844.43 meters (29,017 feet), plus a 3.55 meter ice cap, the Guardian reports.

To complicate matters further, in 1999 an American expedition to Everest using GPS technology for the first time got a rockhead elevation of 8,850 meters, and an ice elevation 1 meter higher.

That measure is now a figure that is now used by the US National Geographic Society, but it has not been officially accepted by Nepal.

In 2010, China and Nepal agreed that Mount Everest should be recognised as being 8,848 meters high, but Nepal government spokesman Gopal Giri told AFP that, during border talks between the two countries, Chinese officials often persisted in using the rock height.

"We have begun the measurement to clear this confusion. Now we have the technology and the resources, we can measure ourselves," Giri reportedly said.

Stations will be set up at three different locations using the global positioning system, the BBC reports, and the task of measuring the peak will take two years.

Geologists, meanwhile, say that both countries could be wrong and that the mountain is becoming higher as India is gradually pushed by shifting continental plates beneath China and Nepal.