You know when you were a kid and you’d go to the doctor’s office for your annual checkup and you couldn’t wait to see how many inches you’d grown? The same sort of thing kind of just happened for Mount Everest: official survey teams from Nepal and China have jointly announced a new height of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.69 feet) for the tallest mountain in the world—an increase of nearly 1 meter, or 3 feet!
The accepted height before was 8,848 meters (29,028.87 feet).
Nepal and China came up with the new measurement based off of separate surverying expeditions to Everest, followed by a joint analysis of the data. In the spring of 2019, a Nepalese team summitted during a busy commercial expedition season to install their data-collection devices. Then, in May 2020, on a nearly deserted mountain—the Covid-19 pandemic shut down all international climbing expeditions to Everest earlier this year—a Chinese team summited and performed their measurements.
Everest has been remeasured a number of times over the decades. In 1856, an Indian team measured the height at 29,002 feet, while another team from the country in 1955 came up with 8,848 meters—the most widely accepted number until today, despite other survey expeditions that have come up with differing results.
According to an article by Freddie Wilkinson in National Geographic, a 1999 expedition—led by Bradford Washburn—was the first to employ GPS in effots to measure Everest’s elevation. “That team’s work delivered an altitude of 29,035—the figure still in use by the Society until the new measurements can be fully verified,” Wilkinson writes.
For more details on the methodology used to arrive at new 8,848.86-meter height, watch the video of the official Sagarmatha Height Joint Announcement Ceremony below!