Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data from the NASA EO-1 team, archived on the USGS Earth Explorer.
Caption: Adam Voiland.
Mount Everest — known in Nepalese as Sagarmatha or ‘Mother of the Universe’ — at 8,848 metres is the tallest mountain in the world and one of just 14 ‘eight-thousanders’ — mountains with summits 8,000 metres above sea level.
The mountain formed some 40 million years ago when the Indian subcontintental plate collided with its Eurasian neighbour, pushing up the massive ridges which form the Himalayas.
The summit of Everest (centre of image) is a huge pyramid of marine limestone which was pushed up to the top of the world from an ancient ocean floor, and shaped by glaciers into a triangular peak.
By March 2012, there had been 5,656 successful ascents of Everest, while 223 people had died on the mountain, representing a fatality rate of four per cent.