Nepal Will Measure Mt. Everest for The First Time in History
For the first time in history, a team of Nepali scientists are surveying the height of Mount Everest. The height was officially recognized by the Nepali government as 29,029ft above sea level, which was calculated in 1950. Although the figure has been contested among foreign scientists, it is very rare that the Nepali government recognizes these calculations. In Nepal, the mountain’s height is a source of national pride.
Nepal closed its borders from the outside world during its Hindu monarchy, and it was not until 1950 that it was officially opened. Since then the height has been calculated a number of times by international scientists, including teams from the US, Denmark, Italy, India, and China.
Their points of contention included, but were not limited to: if the snowcap should be calculated, and if the surveyors must avoid drilling down to the peak’s rock base. In addition, scientists concluded that earthquakes shrink the mountains by little more than an inch, and raises in the period between an earthquake and another, based on a data from 1934 earthquake in Nepal. The measurement this year comes after the massive 2015 earthquake.
Thirty percent of Nepal’s GDP is dependent on remittances. A quarter of Nepal’s population is living below the poverty line. Its major industries are tourism, garments, and textiles. Manufacturing is still developing, and yields ten percent of the country’s GDP. The estimated cost of measuring the height of Mt. Everest is about $250,000, which would be a sacrifice.
Nepal relies heavily on tourism, which implies that the height is not only a matter of national pride, but of stimulant to thriving its economy. However, Nepal is not the only country that treasures profit from tourism. In 2005, a team of Chinese surveyors had calculated the height, concluding to 29,017ft excluding the snowcap. Ang Tshering Sherpa, who is the former head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said to New York Times that the Chinese government had pressured the Nepal’s government to recognize this new conclusion. Sherpa has also mentioned that there was a decrease in the number of climbers reaching Mt. Everest from the Tibet’s side, which lead to China backing down on its claims.
China faces a rival in its attempt to exert influence on Nepal. Both India and China see Nepal’s underdeveloped lands as an opportunity for infrastructure development. Last year, China had a triumphant victory when Nepal signed an agreement to become part of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan of the Chinese government to build a railway connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe.
In the past, Nepal’s relations with China were constrained because of the geographical barriers of the Himalayas. In contrast, Nepal and India have an open border policy, where citizens from either countries can cross the border without visas. Furthermore, Nepal’s economy is dependent on imports from India.
But recently, Nepal has turned down an offer from India to jointly survey the height of Mt. Everest. Last year, Sarna Subba Rao, former surveyor general of India, has directed resources for a plan to send a team of thirty climbers. In the past, Nepal has been excluded from attempts by international teams to measure Mt. Everest. Dec
The team of Nepali mountaineers will use new technology for the national project. Traditionally, surveyors measured angles between objects surrounding the mountain that are on sea levels. Next month, the team will utilize the exact same method. Then, they will place a GPS receiver on the summit for an hour, and collect data from the satellites. They will also use gravitational measurements from the base.
The team will be the first to measure the height since the 2015 earthquake. According to experts, the measurement of a mountain is “a snapshot in time.”