Everest is the highest mountain on planet Earth, every school child knows this, but how high is it?
In 1858, Chinese and Nepalese geographers calculated the height and came up with two different figures. China maintains that Everest is 8844 metres high, whilst Nepal's measurement came out four metres higher at 8848 metres, due to a particularly heavy snowfall on the day it was measured. Edmund Hillary, who climbed the mountain in 1953 declared it to be "Very High", without being too specific.
In 1974, in an effort to put the matter to rest before China got really fed up with Nepal and crushed it, a team of internal scientists measured it with a thirty centimetre ruler, and they came up with an official figure of 8850 metres, two metres higher than the Nepalese answer. Neither China nor Nepal agreed with this figure and both were upset with the rest of the world, and have been ever since.
In a recent How High Is Everest conference, held in Barbados at the tax payers expense, the two countries agreed to compromise on the Nepalese figure as the official height of Everest, confounding many geologists expectations. China grudgingly accepted the higher figure, but maintain that their figure is the height without snow, and therefore more accurate.
A recent team attained the summit with an altimeter accurate to within half a millimetre, and declared the mountain to be 8851.324 metres high, with a snow depth of twelve inches (the snow depth was measured by the American on the team). Geologists tried to placate the Chinese and Nepalese authorities by explaining that recent earthquakes had pushed the Indian plate further under the Asian plate, raising the mountain by between three and seven metres.
With everybody's figures now explained, everybody's happy. However, it took the moving of a mountain to create consensus between China and Nepal.