The Greatest Moments on Everest: 10. The Mountain Is Discovered

With the 2012 climbing season underway, we look back at some of the most incredible moments to take place on the world's tallest mountain over the last 150 years


Everest signpost via Shutterstock     Photo: Blazej Lyjak

During the 1850s, as the Trigonometric Survey of India, arguably the greatest feat of scientific inquiry in human history, pushed north into the Himalayas, field reports of an incredible peak residing deep in the range began trickling back to civilization. Variously called Peak B, Sharp Peak H, Peak Gamma, and Peak XV, a brilliant Indian mathematician named Radhanath Sickdhar, boasting computation skills that would make today’s quantum physicists envious, determined that the mysterious mountain poked skyward to 29,002 feet (now adjusted to 29,035 feet), the highest point yet recorded on earth.

Not officially announced until 1856, the mountain was subsequently named after George Everest, who pronounced his name “Eev-rist,” the legendary, bellicose, retired surveyor general who would never see, or even set foot near, the peak that bears his name. Dreams of standing atop it have dogged many lowlanders ever since, while just a few thousand folks over 59 years of climbing get to brag that they’ve actually done so.

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