Amaze your climbing friends! Stump the Sherpas! Little known facts about Everest
by Borgna Brunner
The Japanese-run Everest View Hotel is, at 12,779 ft (3,880 m), the highest hotel in the world. Guests fly to an airstrip in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas and are then transported by yak to the luxury hotel. Because the sudden high altitude is a shock to the unacclimated human body, the hotel constantly pumps fresh oxygen into each room. Everest can be seen at a distance as long as the weather is clear.
The Sherpas are a people of Tibetan ancestry who migrated to Nepal about 600 years ago. Sherpas are renowned for their ability to tolerate high altitudes, for their mountaineering abilities, and for their extraordinary fortitude. Many use “Sherpa” as their surname. Because nearly every Himalayan expedition relies on Sherpas as guides and porters, the word Sherpa has often been used as a generic term to mean a member of a mountaineering or trekking support team. Among the most famous Sherpa mountain climbers are Tenzing Norgay, who, along with Edmund Hillary, first summited Everest, and Appa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest more than anyone else—nineteen times (as of 2009).
According to National Geographic, Everest grows about 4 millimeters a year: the two tectonic plates of Asia and India, which collided millions of years ago to form the Himalayas, continue to press against each other, causing the Himalyan peaks to grow slightly each year.
Sir George Everest was ambivalent about having the highest mountain named after him—he thought a Tibetan or Nepalese name would be more appropriate.
Following in their fathers' footsteps: the sons of Hillary and Tenzing summited Everest, as did Mallory's grandson.
The earliest British expeditions tackling Everest wore tweed jackets, woolen underwear, and leather boots.
The white plume characteristically seen blowing off the top of Everest is the jet stream, a wind current reaching speeds up to 250 mph. To a climber, it sounds like a 747 taking off.
George Mallory never meant his famous quote—"Because it is there"—to be the definitive word on why he wanted to climb Everest. It was an exasperated response to an irritating journalist who had been badgering him with an endless series of obtuse questions.
As of the 2009 season, the number of climbers summiting Everest reached at least 4,559, and the number of deaths on the mountain reached 216.
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