Nepal plans new measurement of Mount Everest

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Nepal's to carry out its own calculation of the height of Mount Everest, aiming to settle a long-running disagreement with China.

While Nepal's long argued that Everest should be measured to the top of the snow piled upon it, the Chinese say it's the rock height that counts.

So while Nepal uses the figure of 8,848 meters - the official figure since the mountain's height was measured by an Indian team in 1955 - China counts it at four meters lower.

But now Nepal wants to have another shot, in a project from the Ministry of Land Reform and Management. It's planning to use global positioning systems at three locations over a two-year period to establish the most accurate figure yet. Kolkata in India will be used as the sea level reference point for the measurement.

"We have begun the measurement to clear this confusion. Now we have the technology and the resources, we can measure ourselves," government spokesman Gopal Giri told AFP.

Whatever the conclusions of the survey, they won't stand for ever. Pressure from shifting continental plates mean that Everest is still growing. In 1999, an American team used GPS to establish a height of 8,850 meters.

And even if the two countries can agree on a height, there's still plenty more to argue about. While Nepal refers to the mountain as Mount Sagarmatha - meaning the head of the world - China calls it Mount Qomolangma.