Everest is the world’s highest mountain; located on the border between Nepal and Tibet in the Mahalangur Himal, a sub-range of the Himalayas, it rises to 8,848m (29,028 ft.) above sea level. 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.
Everest has two main climbing routes, the south-east ridge from Nepal and the north ridge from Tibet; the route from Nepal which was the line of the first ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay being the more frequently used. Other important and well documented routes are via the south-west face, first climbed by an expedition led by Chris Bonnington in 1975, and the Kangschung Face, first climbed by an American expedition in 1983.
The weather on the mountain is dictated by the movement of the jet stream and the arrival of the summer monsoon. As the summer 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 mountain’s principle faces can be scarce.
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 classic view from the west is from the summit of the minor peak of Kala Pattar; Gokyo Peak above the Ngojumba glacier offers an image of a similar perspective. My personal favourite is that taken from the summit of Mera Peak some twelve miles to the south.