Standing at 8848m (28,029 ft) above sea level in the Mahalangur Himalaya on the border between Nepal to the south and Tibet to the north, Everest is the highest mountain in the world. It is known to the Nepalese as Sagarmatha and to the Tibetans as Chomolungma, ‘Goddess Mother of the World’. The mountain generally consists of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that have been faulted southward over continental crust which occurred during the formation of the Himalaya by the subduction of the Indian tectonic plate under the Tibetan Plateau.
The Himalaya has a profound influence on the climate of the region and the weather on Everest is dictated by the movement of the jet stream and the arrival of the summer monsoon. As the monsoon approaches the jet stream moves northward thus reducing the intensity of the high altitude winds; conditions on the mountain therefore become more favourable for climbing during two transition periods in April/May and September/October. High winds prevail during the winter months and, although there is much snowfall during the winter season, lying snow on the mountains can be scarce. The Himalayas themselves also prevent much of the monsoon rain that affects the Indian plains and foothills from reaching the Tibetan Plateau.
Everest is most frequently climbed by either one of two principal routes. The way to the summit from Nepal leads from the Khumbu Glacier, through the Khumbu Icefall and Western Cwm to the Lhotse Face, and then on from the South Col along the narrow and precipitous South-East Ridge. From Tibet, the way starts from the Rongbuk and East Rungbuk Glaciers, reaches the North Col between the main summit and its outlier of Changtse, and then climbs the long North and North East ridges to the summit.
Photographically, apart from that of the great north face of Everest from base camp or the monastery at Rongbuk in Tibet, the best photographs of Everest are to be captured from more elevated and distant viewpoints. The famous 5500 metre Pang La Pass on the highway from Lhasa in Tibet also offers a classic view of the entire Everest massif and is of historical relevance. From Nepal, in the Khumbu Himalaya, excellent views will be achieved from the famous monastery at Thyangboche or, better still, from either of the minor 5000 metre peaks of Kala Pattar in the Khumbu Valley or Gokyo Peak above the Ngojumba Glacier. Two of my personal favourites are those taken from the summit of the 6600 metre Mera Peak above the Hinku Valley some twelve miles to the south and from the North Face Base Camp at Rongbuk.