Nepal launches bid to measure Everest height

In this photograph taken on April 20, 2015, Mount Everest (Background) and the Nupse-Lohtse massif (Foreground) are seen from the village of Tembuche in the Kumbh region of north-eastern Nepal.
PHOTO: AFP

The Department of Survey has begun it own measurement of Mt Everest to ascertain the actual height of the world's tallest peak.

According to the first scientific measurement conducted in 1856, the height of Everest is 8,848 metres. The new study will not only reveal the actual height of Everest but also show the impact of climate change on the mountain.

There are speculations that the height of Everest could have changed due to the Great Earthquake of 2015, with a possible shift in its position. There has been no scientific research to check these assumptions.

China has set rock and snow heights of the Everest. Several international institutions and India had expressed their interest to measure the height but the government decided to undertake the task on its own.

Nepali technicians began work from Udayapur district last week, with the task expected to complete in two years with the help of international experts and scientists.

"We will involve international experts, scientists and others who are experienced in high altitude measurements. We will take technical support from International Association of Geodesy, a trusted and credible organisation in measurement," Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, director general of the Survey Department, told the Post.

To make the findings credible and globally accepted, tools like GPS, gravity survey measurement, vertical height measurement and mathematical survey will be employed.

The government has released Rs20 million (S$428,317) and will provide more funds as required. The total cost could exceed Rs140 million.

This year, Nepal's technicians will complete measurement from Basghari, Udayapur, to Lukla. For measurement in high altitude, the department will train dozens of Sherpas. The climbers will take equipment from the Base Camp to the top for drawing a final conclusion.

DG Bhatta said the experience will help the department with similar projects in the mountains.

Two-year project

- Technicians began the work from Udayapur district last week, with the task expected to complete in two years with the help of international experts and scientists

- To make the findings credible and widely accepted, tools like GPS, gravity survey measurement, vertical height measurement and mathematical survey will be employed

- The government has released Rs20 million and will provide more funds as required.

Man sleeps in low-oxygen tent in Singapore to prep for Everest climb

  • As other Everest hopefuls were trudging up to base camp in April, Singapore-based Brooks Entwistle was at home, planning his daughter's 13th birthday party and preparing for his company's annual general meeting.
  • But at night he would climb into a hypoxic, or low oxygen, tent meant to mimic the thin air at high altitude.
  • Nitrogen is pumped into the sealed tent to recreate a high-altitude environment by reducing oxygen levels so that the body adapts to thinner air.
  • Entwistle, a partner with Singapore's Everstone Group, is hoping to summit the world's highest peak in just 35 days - half the time of a conventional climb.
  • For decades, the dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest has required at least two months on the mountain doing a series of acclimatisation rotations to get used to the harsh low-oxygen environment at the top of the world.
  • Now pre-acclimatisation, which has been at the fringes of the climbing world for several years, is gaining traction, dividing the community between those who see it as yet another tool of modern mountaineering and purists who dismiss it as a gimmick.
  • An increasing number of expedition organisers are offering "rapid ascent" packages that allow clients to pre-acclimatise in a tent at home before zipping up the world's tallest peaks in just a few weeks.
  • Entwistle and climbers with at least two other operators are attempting to summit Everest this year after using pre-acclimatisation tents, each paying between US$75,000 and US$85,000, more than double the cheapest rates to scale Everest the conventional way.
  • Proponents of pre-acclimatisation say spending less time on the mountain lowers the risk of frostbite, accidents and extreme weight loss commonly associated with high-altitude mountaineering.
  • Hypoxic tents have long been used by athletes to build up lung capacity as part of their training.
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