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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest stands on the border of Tibet and Nepal in the Himalayas and is one of the most sought after mountain for climbers. The Tibetans refer to Everest as Chomolungma (the Goddess and Mother of the Snows) while the Nepalese call it Sagarmatha (Mother of the Universe). Mount Everest has an elevation of 8,650 meters from the sea level. Treacherous weather, rough terrain and deadly ice makes Everest a challenge for all types of climbers. Every year, thousands of mountaineers from different parts of the world gather with the intention to reach the zenith , but unfortunately not all succeed in doing so.
Geology of the HimalayasThe place where Mount Everest stands today, during the Mesozoic age, was part of the Tethys Sea. Geologically, Mount Everest and the Himalayas are still young. Made out of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, the Himalayas started forming around 70 millions years ago. According to the ‘Plate Tectonic’ theory, the Himalayas was formed out of orogeny or a giant continental collision of the Indo-Australian and the Eurasian plates.
The huge pressure formed as a result of this inter-continental collision, which finally ended up with a long stretch of elevated landmass presently known as the Himalayas. However, the growth of Mount Everest is still considered dynamic as it has been found that Mount Everest is growing around four millimeters each year as of date.
History and ExpeditionsMount Everest had been discovered during the 19th century after a survey was undertaken by some eminent explorers to unravel the lesser-known regions of the planet. In the year 1830, Sir George Everest, when conducting the Great Trigonometrical Survey of the Indian sub-continent, first stumbled on this gigantic mountain. It was due to the availability of precision, tools and techniques that it became possible to scale the actual height of the mountain even during that time.
Till now many aspiring climbers have attempted the trek to the summit, either from Tibet or Nepal. In 1921, a British expedition first tried to reach the peak from Tibet, but that remained unsuccessful. Later in the year 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay , a Sherpa from Nepal first made the successful ascent from the south side to reach Everest under the leadership of Col. John Hunt. In 1960, another Sherpa named Nawang Gombu, a Tibetan and two Chinese mountaineers, Wang Fuzhou and Chu Yin-Hau, made a successful ascent from the mountain’s northern side. These successful ascents from both the north and south further helped to lay down a proper route, which later became a standard path for all climbers to follow in due course of time.
Mount Everest is not an easy climb as one needs meticulous preparation to reach the summit. The rough weather, strong wind, lack of oxygen and occasional avalanche are a major challenge to all climbers. While some succeed against all such severe calamities, the mountain also proved fatal to many climbers as there has been a number of gruesome accidents that took many lives. One such incident occurred in 1996 where a group of climbers perished on their way to the summit. Jon Krakauer, one of the climbers in that incident later recalled the event in his book “Into Thin Air”. Again in 2014, another incident shook the nations where twelve Sherpas were killed from a high-altitude avalanche. However, these incidents did not deter the climbers in any way as still, the desire to reach the summit has increased by leaps and bounds. Today, there are numbers of mountaineering associations in Nepal that conducts Everest expedition. All you have to do is to pay a hefty amount and you will be led by a group of experienced climbers and Sherpas to reach the summit. This commercialization in climbing has often raised concerns about safety and security as many of such inexperienced climbers fail to reach the summit, perish on the way from high-altitude sickness or from a wrong step leading to a fatal accident.
Environmental ConcernThe ever-rising number of expeditions to Mount Everest in recent times from Nepal has raised concerns for its environmental safety. The surrounding valley Sagarmatha National Park – a 480 square mile park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is facing a major issue due to the increasing amount of waste left by the mountaineers during their expeditions. The resulting waste accumulation caused a major threat to an imbalance of natural alpine vegetation, Rhododendron, Birch trees and also affecting the habitat of wild animals such as snow leopards, lesser panda, Tibetan bears and many birds and species that live in this territory.
How to reach Everest Base Camp
From Nepal – South Col
The two major routes to plan for the summit are either from Nepal or Tibet (Better known as South Col and North Col route respectively). If you are planning to trek from Nepal, you should first reach Kathmandu and take another flight to Lukla Airport (also known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport). There are a number of flights that operate every day on this route. However, since the Lukla Airport is located at a high altitude, flights are often delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. From Lukla it takes around nine to ten days to reach the base camp. Another alternative route is to reach Jiri from Kathmandu and trek another five to seven days in order to reach Lukla.
From Lukla, one has to reach Namche Bazaar – the first destination from where the actual trek to the base camp starts. Namche Bazaar is a small hamlet of the Sherpa people. Trekkers usually spend a few days in this location for acclimatization before embarking on the journey.
From Tibet – North ColTo reach Everest's base camp from Tibet, you first have to reach Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Peruche Route and Tingri Route are two main routes to reach the base camp from Tibet. If you take the Peruche Route, your journey will start from Shelkar to reach the checkpoint on Friendship Highway from where the trek starts in order to reach the base camp. If you have taken Tingri Route, your journey will start from Tingri town to lead to the base camp.
If you are not a mountaineer but have a strong desire to see Mount Everest, you can climb up to Kala Patthar to get the best view of Everest and the surrounding mountains. To get to Kala Patthar, you have to reach Gorak Shep – the base from where the journey to Everest Base Camp starts.
The best time to start a trek would be from the month of March to May or at the beginning of September to November.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Aug 08, 2014