Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas on the Nepal side of the Nepal-China (Tibet) border. Its massif includes neighboring peaks such as Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7855 m), and Changtse (7580 m).
In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India established the first published elevation of Everest, then as Peak XV, at 29,002 feet (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society on the recommendation of British Surveyor General Andrew Andrew of India. Waugh named the mountain in the post after his predecessor, Sir George Everest. Although Tibetans had called Everest “Chomolungma” for centuries, Waugh was unaware of it because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.
The highest mountain in the world attracts many well-experienced mountaineers and novice climbers who aims to hire professional guides. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route (other eight-thousanders such as K2 or Nanga Parbatare much more difficult), Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind.
By the end of the 2008 climbing season, about 2,700 people had climbed 4,102 on the summit. Climbers are an important source of tourism revenue for Nepal, whose government requires all potential climbers to obtain expensive permits, which cost up to US$25,000 per person. By the end of 2009 Everest had claimed 216 lives, including eight that had perished during the 1996 storm on the mountain. Situations in the death zone are so difficult – at a height of more than 8,000 meters (26,000 ft) where the corpses have fallen, most have been abandoned. Some of them appear with standard climbing routes.
With the height now established, what was the name of the summit was clearly the next challenge. Although the survey was keen to preserve local names if possible (such as Kanchenjunga and Dhaulagiri), Waugh argued that he could not find any commonly used local names. Waugh’s search for a local name was hampered by Nepal and Tibet’s exclusion of foreigners. Many local names existed, including Deodungha (Holy Mountain) in Darjeeling and the Tibetan Jomolungma, which appeared as Chomolungma on a 1733 map published in Paris by the French geographer D’Anville. In the late 19th century, many European cartographers further believed (wrongly) that the mountain’s original name was Gaurishankar, although it was a result of Mount Everest’s confusion with Gauri Shankar, which, when viewed from Kathmandu, was almost straight Stands of Everest.