Mount Everest

Topics: Mount Everest, Himalayas, Great Trigonometric Survey Pages: 5 (1795 words) Published: December 1, 2005
It is nearly impossible to write a paper on a mountain such as this one and not include some information on the men who have attempted and succeeded to summit the highest of the 8000 meter peaks. After reading this report you will know how the mountain became to be known as Mount Everest, the people that inhabit the area, and some of the men who gave their lives in order to conquer what had never been beaten before.

The Himalaya are located on the border of India and Asia. The Himalaya, the highest mountain range in the world, are the result of tectonic action---the inconceivably powerful geological force that moves the continental landmasses against each other. The landmass of India is forced against the landmass of Asia, and the Himalayan ranges are pushed up in between. The process continues inexorably to this day, continually lifting the entire Himalayan range by several millimeters each year. The story begins in 1802 with the beginning of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. The survey was government department within British India's bureaucratic Leviathan. This was an exploration led by a British man named William Lambton, in an effort to map the continent of India. No scientific undertaking on such a massive scale had previously been attempted. In order to get exact measurements, Lambton used a method known as Triangulation. This means ‘triangle-ing', or conceiving three mutually visible reference points, usually on prominent hills or landforms, as the corners of a triangle. Knowing the exact distance between two of these points, and then measuring at each point the angles made by their connecting sight-line with those to the third point, the distance and position of the third point can be established by trigonometry. Then one of the newly determined sides of this triangle becomes the base of a second triangle embracing a new reference whose position is determined in the same way. Another triangle is thus completed and one of its sides becomes the base for a third triangle, and so on. A web, or chain of triangles results; and Lambton's job was to extend this web of triangulation over all of India. William Lambton died in 1823 having never reached his goal, or the great Himalayas, and was followed by a man named George Everest. Everest himself had never been to the mountain either. When he retired in 1843, the Arc, or "Great Arc" was the name of the route created during the survey process, was completed to it's grand Himalayan finale, all the way to Dehra Dun in the foothills north of Delhi. Arms of triangulation were being extended east and west along the Himalayan glacis. When Andrew Scott Waugh, Everest's successor, took over, he began the dulling task of charting the Himalayan range. (Left: George Everest Right: The tribunal that settled the heights of the Himalayas: (left to right) T.G. Montgomerie, A.S. Waugh, J.T. Walker, and H.E.L. Thuillier)

At this point in time a mountain named Nanda Devi, 25,645 feet/7817 m, located in the western side of the Himalaya, was believed to be the highest mountain in the world. It would remain that way for 30 years because expeditions into the central Himalayas from Tibet and Nepal remained impossible due to the fact that their borders were closed to outsiders. In 1847, Waugh, while observing from a point near Darjeeling in the eastern Himalayas, calculated a new height for the great massif of Kangchenjunga. At 28,208 feet (8590 m) it far exceeded any peak yet measured, and Waugh duly recognized it as the world's highest mountain (in actuality, it is in fact the third highest mountain, but the modern accepted value for its height is 28,208 feet/8598 m). Waugh did not publish his findings because from the same vantage point he could see a much more distant cluster of peaks, on the Nepal-Tibet border that might be higher still. Later in 1847, and again in 1849, the same group of peaks was sighted and angles were taken. Soon Waugh...

Bibliography: 1. Venables, Stephen, Everest: Summit of Achievement, New York, Simon & Schuster 2003
2. Keay, John, The Great Arc, New York, Harper Collins 2000
3. Lewis, Jon E., The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness Everest, New York, Carroll & Graf 2003
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