China and Nepal have finally come up with a solution to a longstanding dispute over the height of Mount Everest.
The world’s highest mountain lies on the border between the two countries and they have disagreed for years over its exact height, which Nepal puts at 8,848m — nearly 4m more than the measurement used by China.
Officials reached a compromise at talks in Kathmandu this week by agreeing the two measurements referred to different things — one to the height of Everest’s rock and the other to the height of its snowcap.
“The Chinese side — led by Li Qingyuan — accepted Nepal’s claim that the snow height of Mount Everest is 8,848m, while the Nepali side recognized the Chinese claim that the rock height of the mountain is 8,844.43m,” a senior official at Nepal’s Department of Surveys told the Kathmandu Post Daily.
Thousands of people have climbed Mount Everest since the first ascent in 1953 by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, but its exact height has been a source of dispute ever since the first measurement was made in 1856.
The broadly accepted height of 8,848m was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955 and measured the mountain’s snowcap, rather than the rock beneath it.
Geologists believe Everest is still growing as India is gradually pushed beneath China and Nepal by the shifting of the continental plates.
In May 1999 a US expedition using GPS technology measured the height of Everest as 8,850m, a figure that is now used by the US National Geographic Society, though it has yet to be officially accepted by Nepal.
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