The agreement marked the end of a lengthy debate over the exact dimensions of the mountain known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Komolangma in Tibet. Over the years, the two countries – as well as other governments around the world – have provided different estimates of mountain height.
“This project is a national pride for Nepal and a valuable achievement for the Government of Nepal. I am proud to have been able to successfully complete this,” Sushil Tangol, Deputy Director General of the Nepal Survey Department, told CNN. “Nepal and China jointly processed the calculated data and came to its conclusion.”
The virtual press conference was attended by Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Kiawali and his Chinese envoy Wang Yi.
In 2005, a Chinese study of the mountain estimated it to be about 8,844 meters (approximately 29,015 feet).
However, since Nepal does not recognize this research, the country does not recognize it as an official height. At that time, they used an image of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) according to the findings of the 1955 Indian Census.
Then in 2015, several scientific studies suggested that the height of the mountain may have changed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal. Two years later, the Nepalese government began its long and arduous task of re-measuring height for the first time.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal last year, the two countries jointly agreed to declare new heights, calling the summit “the eternal symbol of friendship between Nepal and China”. Following the arrival of Xi, China began to measure from the Tibetan side of the mountain.
The new height was calculated using a combination of geological data obtained from three methods: a balancing device, a gravity meter and a GPS meter. The team placed a signal receiver at each station and measured how long it took for signals to travel between the receiver and the satellite – and then converted that measurement to altitude.