In fact, what is the final height of Everest?

Oddly enough, this question, which may seem trivial, is not as simple as it seems. Experts, geologists and expeditions have always wondered what to include in the calculations. Is it the rock under the ice, the height of ice, with or without the snow, at what time of the year - knowing that the expeditions to the summit of Everest are still May - with or without wind that carries the top layer of snow? And to complicate matters, the earthquake of April 2015 would have lowered the top by 3 cm (1 inch) and the reference of the sea level which in Nepal is still a fairly empirical concept ...

Today the official height of Everest is 20,029 feet (8,848 m), but expeditions from many countries have sometimes achieved quite different results. The Italians in 92 took him 7 feet (20,022) while the Americans in 99 added 6 (20,035) to him, whereas the first measurements of Georges Everest and his team of Indian mathematicians in 1856 estimated him to 29 002 feet. Not bad for the time!

One hundred years later, when the doors of Nepal opened to foreigners, scientists could approach the mountain half of which is in Tibet. In 1950 the height was established at 22,029 feet (8,848 m) which made it the highest mountain in the world.

But in all this the Nepalis have never had a say. As the Department of Topography in Kathmandu points out: "Mount Everest - Sagarmatha in Nepali - it's our treasure. What will happen if foreign experts continue to reduce our mountain without consulting us? '' So the Nepalese government decided to set up its own expedition, starting with taking measurements in the Terai plains (jungle) before launching its Sherpas teams to attack the highest mountain in the world ... even if, one realizes it, altimetry is not an exact science.

**** Based on an article by Badhra Sharma in Kathmandu and Kai Schultz in New Delhi and published today in the New York Times International.

Kathmandu on February 19, 2018