A team of Nepalese scientists heads out to measure Mount Everest and verify if the 2015 Nepal Earthquake shrunk the mountain.
Three years ago, Mount Everest expeditions were canceled after the 2015 Everest Earthquake rattled the country, stranding some climbers on the mountain. At the time, a big source of controversy was whether the mountain had lost some inches due to the quake. This was something that was never verified, and it took a back seat to debates in 2017 over whether the Hillary Step collapsed during the same earthquake.
The 2015 Nepal Earthquake
Let’s rewind back to 2015, shall we? After the 2015 earthquake, Nepal dispatched helicopters to rescue climbers who had been injured and stranded above Camp 1. After the mountain was emptied of expedition teams, the season was canceled and it remained that way in 2016. For two years, no one laid eyes on the summit.
When the climbing season reopened in 2017, Nepal was met with various claims that the mountain had lost some inches off of the top due to the earthquake. Some climbers, including Kenton Cool, claimed the Hillary Step was gone. Nepal wasn’t happy about that, and they were adamant Everest hadn’t lost the Hillary Step. They also stated the mountain was not shorter.
Fast-forward to 2019, we know that Nepal announced in 2017 that they were sending their own expedition to conduct a few surveys of their own to determine the true height of Mount Everest. They are also hoping to end the debate on whether the mountain shrunk or not after the earthquake.
Nepal has never measured Everest on its own although the world’s highest peak lies in its territory. So we want to prove to our people that Nepal is capable of measuring Everest. -Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, Director General, Survey Department of Nepal.
How tall is Everest?
Mount Everest was first surveyed in 1856 by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. At the time, Everest measured in at 29,002 feet. Since then, the mountain has grown a few millimeters each year. Over the years, different expeditions have attempted to measure the mountain, all coming up with different figures:
- In the 1950s, an Indian survey measured Everest in at 29,029.
- In 1999, an American team came up with 29,035.
- Later, in 2005, a new Chinese survey measured Everest in at 29,017.
The last confirmed and accepted measurement of Everest was 29,029 feet from the Indian survey in the 50s. It was later confirmed in the 70s by a Chinese expedition.
A report noted that after the earthquake, Everest had dropped by at least one inch.
Nepal’s Mission to Measure Mount Everest
In the two years preparing for this expedition, 81 people have worked on the survey. Nepal is reportedly spending over $2.5 million on the expedition. And it has become a source of national pride for the small, mountain country, which attempted to survey Everest once before. Funding cut their work short.
This year, they plan on transporting their equipment to the summit during the current Spring Everest Season, most likely in May. Among the equipment used to measure Mount Everest is a Global Navigation Satellite System survey technology gifted to Nepal by New Zealand.