## Everest and K2

A few years ago, I read in the World Almanac that Mt. Everest was no longer the tallest mountain on earth, K2 was.

K2 (sometimes called Godwin-Austen) hadn't grown (much), and Everest hadn't shrunk. (Incidentally, all of those mountains in and around the Himalayas are increasing in height, but only a fraction of an inch per year.) Instead, a new measurement of K2's height (supposedly more accurate) had shown that K2 was some hundreds of feet taller than had previously been thought. K2 was previously thought to be the second tallest mountain in the world. It seems that an airplane flew over K2 (see addendum #1), and measured the distance from the plane to the top of K2 by radar. And, the position of the plane was measured by radar. And, supposedly these measurements were accurate to within inches.

This pointed out how rough measurements of the past could be. And some of the mountains of that region were then measured by radar from a satellite. And, Everest leaped into the lead again. Whew.

The original measurement of Everest's height, made by Sir George Everest (see addendum #2), was 29,002 feet. He was the surveyor who mapped and surveyed much of the Himalayas, from a great distance away in India. The story goes that he actually measured Mt. Everest's height as 29,000 feet (averaging several measurements), to the nearest few feet. But, he feared that people would take that as a rough estimate, maybe even plus or minus 1000 feet. So, he added 2 feet, so people would know, just by looking at the number, that it was not a rough estimate.

Everest is called Chomo-Lungma, by the local Tibetans. Everest is on the border between Tibet and Nepal. I don't see any mention of what it is called by the local Nepalis (see addendum #2). Supposedly, K2 is now called Kaytu (sounding like "K2"), by the locals in Kashmir. K2 is more difficult to climb than is Everest. Many climbers have died on both mountains.

Of the world's tallest mountains, Annapurna (in Nepal) was the first to be climbed, in 1950, by Maurice Herzog. Everest was first climbed, in 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (Norkay). K2 was first climbed, in 1954, by Ardito Desio.

Mt. Everest is, of course, the highest point above sea level. But, in some ways, it is not the tallest mountain. Several undersea mountains are apparently taller, from base to peak. Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii, is the tallest mountain in the world, from base to peak (about 32,000 feet), its base being some 19,000 feet under water.