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5 Things You Never Knew About Mount Everest
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October 2, 2019
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Travel Trivia Editorial
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Everest is the highest mountain in the world, sitting at an incredible 29,035 feet above sea level. It has captured the world's imagination for centuries, with thousands climbing it each year in an attempt to reach the summit. Not everyone makes it, however. If you've always been fascinated with this majestic behemoth, you'll enjoy learning these five things about Mount Everest.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay May Not Have Been the First to Reach the Summit

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Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay famously reached the mountain's summit on May 29, 1953.

However, they may have actually been the second (and third) individuals to conquer the rugged mountain. According to NBC News, there may have been a successful expedition to the summit nearly thirty years earlier, in 1924. George Mallory led that expedition with Andrew Irvine, both of whom died on the mountain during the trip.

According to local legend, both Irvine and Mallory were seen climbing to the top. After the first sightings of the men, however, they were never seen again. A search team found Mallory's body on the mountain in 1999, a few thousand feet from the top. However, was he going up or coming back down? No one knows, and, unfortunately, Mallory's camera wasn't found with his body. The camera would have contained photographic evidence that Mallory and Irvine reached the summit 30 years before Sir Edmund Hillary.

The search team failed to find Irvine's body, however. If it's recovered along with the camera, it could put the mystery to rest almost one hundred years after the men attempted to scale the imposing mountain.

Want to learn more? The key historian on the 1999 research expedition, Jochen Hemmleb, has detailed new discoveries of Irvine and Mallory's belongings on his website. According to Hemmleb, a search needs to be conducted on the Northeast Ridge to confirm the testimonies of Chinese climber Xu Jing and Sherpa Chhiring Dorje. Both men claimed to have spotted Irvine's body high on the Northeast Ridge.

Everest Isn't the Mountain's Only Name

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According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Everest isn't the mountain's only name. Historians claim that it was named after Sir George Everest, who first surveyed the mountain for the British government in 1865. That said, we know that the mountain sits on the border between Nepal and Tibet. The indigenous people living there knew of the mountain for centuries before Sir George Everest came along. They, of course, had their own names for it.

The mountain is also known by its Tibetan name "Chomolungma," which means "Goddess Mother of the World." It also has a Sanskrit name "Sagarmatha," which means "Peak of Heaven." Both names indicate that even before officials measured the mountain, its rugged majesty impressed the people living nearby.

The Mountain Is Still Growing

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Turns out Mount Everest isn't done growing. According to the Seattle Times, the mountain grows about half an inch a year. That's thanks to a lot of action percolating underground.

This means that the official height measurements of the mountain could actually be slightly off. Also, there's much dispute about how tall the mountain actually is. According to an article in Time, the U.S. National Geographic Society puts the elevation at 29,035 feet. Indian estimates, long considered to be the most official, put the mountain at 29,029 feet. Meanwhile, China disputes this measurement and says the mountain is 29,042 feet high.

The problem with many of the measurements is that they originate from surveys done in the 1950s. Not only is the mountain still growing half an inch a year, but scientists maintain that it may have even decreased after a major earthquake in 2015. At present, Nepalese mountaineers are planning to head back up the mountain to complete a new height survey. Their work should be completed in 2020.

Expeditions to the Summit Take About Two Months

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If you'd like to get up the mountain, you may need to take a sabbatical or quit your job. According to Nepal Sanctuary Treks, the average expedition takes about two months.

Additionally, you won't spend all of the two months climbing the peak, either. You'll be doing a lot of sitting around in those two months. This is because climbers must spend the majority of the time allowing their bodies to acclimatize to the environment. There's much less oxygen at that altitude, so your body will start to feel oxygen-deprived unless it's allowed to adapt gradually to the changes.

At each camp along the way, climbers will need to spend a few nights getting used to the environment before moving on. Most climbers use supplemental oxygen once they get to higher altitudes.

Climbers Can Expect to Lose Between 30 and 50 Pounds on Their Trek

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Mountaineers who make the trek can expect to lose up to 50 pounds during the two-month climb, according to the Chicago Tribune. It's the environment on the mountain that leads to so much weight loss. The combination of the cold temperatures, physical activity, and lower oxygen levels all lead the body to burn more calories than it does at lower altitudes.

Weight loss can become a life-threatening issue for climbers, however. Burning so many calories within such a short period can make climbers more susceptible to frostbite and fatigue. Both can prove deadly when trying to reach the peak.