Mount Everest: Land in the Clouds

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Mount Everest is the highest above-land mountain in the world. It stretches 29,028 feet above sea level. It is part of the Himalaya Mountain Range and straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet.

The mountain is known by many names. The Tibetan name is Chomolungma, meaning "Mother of the Universe." The Nepali name translated into English is "Head of the Sky." The English name, Everest, came from Andrew Waugh, the British surveyor-general of India who encountered the mountain in 1865 and named it after the former surveyor-general George Everest.

The Himalayas have a large handful of mountain peaks that are very, very tall. Everest is the tallest, but some, such as K2 (28,251) come close.

Everest is definitely an unforgiving place. Most people who go to such heights experience altitude sickness. The air is much, much thinner up there than many people are used to, so many people find it difficult to breathe in such a thin atmosphere.

Everest is most famous for people climbing it. More than 2,000 people have successfully reached the top. The first two to do it were New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Nepal's Tenzig Norgay, in 1953.

Many people now argue that Everest is becoming commercialized. Hundreds of people now try to summit the mountain every year. A helicopter has even landed on top. The mountain that people in Nepal and Tibet revere as a special, spiritual place has become, to many, nothing more than a tourist attraction.

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David White