Mount Everest

Destinations The Mountain of Many Names

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Why is Everest called Mount Everest?

Before Everest was known to be the top of the world, Kangchenjunga was thought to be the highest mountain. Everest had been spotted further in the distance, from as far as 140 miles away, but was labelled merely as Peak b and thought to be not as tall as its neighbour. The British Great Trigonometrical Survey began in the early 1800s cataloguing the peaks of British India. The survey discovered that Kangchenjunga was in fact shorter than Everest and it was relegated to being named Peak b instead, whilst Mount Everest was now referred to as Peak XV. It took many years of observations to confirm this as they were measuring the peaks from long distances away and were often thwarted in their attempts by disruptions such as malaria, poor weather conditions and cumbersome equipment.
Mount Everest

At the same time, this high peak was known locally as Qomolangma or Chomolungma in Tibetan -  ‘the mother goddess of the world’ or ‘holy mother’.

The Nepali name for Everest was Sagarmatha, or ‘goddess of the sky’.

The Chinese name for Everest was Shèngmǔ Fēng, which means, ‘holy mother peak’.

At the time of this discovery Nepal refused to admit the British surveyors conducting the survey so observations had to be made south of Nepal to confirm the new status of the highest mountain in the world.

Following the survey findings, it was suggested by the current Surveyor General of India, Andrew Waugh, to name if after his predecessor, George Everest. Colonel George Everest was a respected surveyor who favoured local place names over renaming using western names. He initially objected to naming this high peak after himself, but it was proving difficult to get into Nepal to find out the local name of this huge mountain.

In 1865 the Royal Geographical Society officially recorded the name of the tallest mountain in the world Mount Everest, forever immortalising George Everest for posterity.