China Says Americans Were Wrong and Lops 12 Feet Off of Everest Height

China Daily reports that the latest estimate of the Everest’s height by China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping is 29,017 feet. That’s about 12 feet less than the previous figure of 29,029 feet.

Mount Everest, known to Sherpas in Nepal as Sagarmatha and to the Chinese as Qomolangma, remains the highest mountain in the world.

Chen Bangzhu, director of the bureau, said that the latest technology was used to arrive at the new figure, including a radar altimeter that estimated the ice and snow at the summit at a thickness of about 4 yards.

“When we conducted the survey in 1975, the equipment was of much poorer accuracy,” Chen said. “We measured the depth of the ice and snow by a simple poke of an iron stick, therefore we did not reach the real surface of the rock summit.”

An earlier American survey had indicated it was higher.

In 1999 an American survey, sponsored by the (U.S.) National Geographic Society and others, took precise measurements using Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment. Their finding of 29,035 feet, with an error margin of plus or minus 6.5 feet (2 metres), was accepted by the society and by various specialists in the fields of geodesy and cartography.

The long-accepted figure of 29,028 feet (8,848 metres) was established by the Indian government’s Survey of India in 1952–54. This value was used by most researchers, mapping agencies, and publishers (including the National Geographic Society) until 1999.

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