Mt. Everest

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Deaths on the Everest, some figures, 2004-16; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, May 30, 2016
Altitude sickness and some casualties on the climb up to Mt. Everest in April- May 2016, the first climbing season since 2014; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, May 24, 2016

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


1840-2016: a history

The Times of India, May 30 2016

When was Everest discovered?

In the 1840s, Andrew Waugh, the British surveyor general of India, found a peak in the eastern end of the Himalayas.In 1852, Indian mathematician and surveyor Radhanath Sikdar calculated the peak's height and it was discovered that it was higher than Kangchenjunga, believed at that time to be the world's highest peak. The mountain previously known as Peak XV was renamed Mount Everest in 1865 after Sir George Everest, British surveyor general of India from 1830 to 1843.

What is the height of Mt Everest?

The long accepted figure was 29,028 feet or 8,848 metres. This figure was calculated as part of the Indian government's 1952-54 survey . In 1975, Chinese surveyors calculated that the height was 8,848.11 metres. An Italian survey using GPS and laser measurement yielded the figure of 8,846 metres by subtracting the height of the peak's ice cap. Until 1999, the value used by most research value used by mo ers and mapping agencies was the figure established by the Indian survey . In 1999, a US team using satellite technology obtained a figure of 8,850 metres, which today is the most accepted height of the peak. Analysis of satellite data after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal suggested that Everest might have shrunk by about 2.5 cm.

Why do many mountaineers criticise Everest's commercialisation?

There is a growing concern about the commercialisation of climbing Everest. Many tour companies promise they can take ordinary people to the top if they can bear the expense.This has increased the number of people attempting the climb as well as the death toll. Several people have died in the attempts and their remains are left on the peak. It has also increased pollution on Everest, now littered with oxygen canisters, human waste and dead bodies.

1965: India 4th nation to scale Everest

May 20: The day India broke Everest jinx

The Times of India, Jaideep Mazumdar,TNN | May 19, 2015

On May 20, 1965, an Indian expedition ascended to the top of the world. It was a pilgrimage, as the expedition leader, Manmohan Singh Kohli, says. A pilgrimage that put India in the exalted league of nations who had ascended the world’s highest point—the 8848 meter high Mount Everest that had been scaled only thrice earlier.

May 20 1965 was a historic day worth remembering: a feverish excitement gripped the nation, people danced on the streets, All India Radio broadcast ecstatic bulletins repeatedly, the Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues and other senior politicians scrambled to issue congratulatory messages and the nation erupted in a collective euphoria over a victory that, more than anything else, helped the nation regain its wounded pride.

On May 20, 1965, an Indian expedition ascended to the top of the world. It was a pilgrimage, as the expedition leader, Manmohan Singh Kohli, says. A pilgrimage which was cathartic for the nation that was still reeling under the ignominious debacle of 1962. A pilgrimage that put India in the exalted league of nations who had ascended the world's highest point—the 8848 meter high Mount Everest that had been scaled only thrice earlier.

Kohli, then a Lieutenant Commander in the Indian Navy, has vivid memories of that day. "It was a glorious moment for India. We set a record by putting nine of our expedition members on the summit in four successive successful attempts," Kohli, who now lives in New Delhi, said. Captain Avtar.Singh Cheema and Nawang Gombu were the first to scale the peak on May 20, followed by Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyal on May 22, C.P.Vohra and Ang Kami on May 24 and Major Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia, Harish Rawat and Phu Dorji on May 29. This record—of nine members of an expedition summiting—remained unbroken for 17 years. "There was a complete sense of fulfilment since the effort to scale this peak was going on for a long time with four pre-Everest expeditions and two unsuccessful attempts to summit in 1961 and 1963. The success of the expedition gave an exceptional boost to sports in the country," said Kohli.

The expedition's success electrified the nation. Prime Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda broke protocol to receive the expedition members at the Palam airport and immediately announced Arjuna Awards for all the 19 team members and Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree for eleven of them. Chief Ministers of almost all the states invited and hosted the team and organized felicitations and civic receptions for them. Kohli, who later retired as a Navy Captain, was invited to address a joint session of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the central hall of the Parliament on September 8 that year where leaders of all political parties vied with each other to pay tributes to the expedition. Indira Gandhi described the expedition's success as one of India's six major achievements after Independence. A special commemorative stamp was released on August 15 that year.

"A few months later, we were in Kolkata on the invitation of Chief Minister P.C.Sen. I particularly remember a felicitation at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium where a kilometer-long queue of people with garlands in their hands waited to greet us. The pile of garlands was seven feet high. I then realized the Bengal was the most sports-loving state in the country," said Kohli. Another civic reception hosted by the Mayor at the Town Hall was also attended by thousands of people. Kohli recalls that the CM threw a big party for the team members.

Kohli's book, 'Nine Atop Everest—Spectacular Indian Ascent' was penned in 1968,

A film on the expedition—Challenge of Everest—which had music by Shankar Jaikishan—was made in the late 1960s.

HMI Principal Colonel Gulshan Chadha explained the significance of the 1965 expedition's success: "The mood in the entire country, especially the Himalayan region, was very low after the 1962 debacle. The success of the 1965 expedition injected hope and positivity among Indians. Two earlier Indian army expeditions to the Everest in 1961 and 1963 failed just short of the summit and everyone was very depressed. The 1965 expedition broke that jinx and made the nation feel that we could do it and scale the highest peaks. More so since there had been only three successful expeditions to the Everest till then—the one in 1953 by the Hillary-Tenzing duo, the second in 1954 by the Swiss and in 1960 by the Americans. The 1965 expedition put India at the high table of successful nations".


1970s-2015: 28% shrinkage

The Times of India, Dec 09 2015

Glaciers in Everest have shrunk by 28% in 40 years 

Glaciers on Mount Everest, source of major Asian rivers like Brahmaputra, have shrunk by 28% over the past 40 years due to climate change, according to a report. The glacial shrinkage area is compared to the measurements taken in the 1970s in the report released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Hunan University of Science and Technology , and Mount Qomolangma Snow Leopard Conservation Centre.

The glacial area on the south slope of the world's highest mountain, in Nepal, has decreased by 26% since the 1980s, the report said.

Part of the report also said Everest, known as Mount Qomolangma in Tibet, has been getting warmer for the past 50 years.

Kang Shichang, a researcher with the State Key Labo ratory of Cryospheric Sciences under the CAS, said the data was based on long-term remote sensing and on-site monitoring.

At present, there are 1,476 glaciers in China's Mt Qomolangma national nature reserve, covering 2,030 square kilometres, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The shrinking glaciers have resulted in swelling of glacial lakes and higher river levels downstream, Kang, who has led several glacier inspection teams, said.

Remote sensing data showed that the area of a glacial lake in Mount Everest nature reserve increased from about 100 square kilometres in 1990 to 114 square kilometres in 2013, Kang said.

Mount Everest is the source of a number of major Asian rivers, including Brahmaputra and Ganges.

Earlier in May , a group of international researchers had warned that the estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu KushHimalayan region -site of many of the world's tallest peaks, including Mount Everest -could reduce their volume by 70-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream.

See also

Nepal earthquake: 2015

Nepal earthquakes: 2015-16

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