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Nepalese gov to nail Everest's bigness in row with China

May be stymied by mountain's tectonic rise

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The Nepalese government has decided to answer once and for the all the question of just how tall Everest is, since it can't agree with the Chinese on an exact height for the lofty peak.

The generally accepted height of 8,848m (29,029ft) came from a 1955 Indian survey, the BBC notes. Nepal accepts this "snow height" figure (peak+snow), but China says Everest should be measured by its "rock height", which is 8,844m.

Despite an agreement between the two countries last year to stick to the 8,848m standard, Chinese officials cheekily persist in using the rock height during border talks.

Accordingly, Nepal will now spend two years laying the matter to rest. Government spokesman Gopal Giri declared: "We have begun the measurement to clear this confusion. Now we have the technology and the resources, we can measure ourselves. This will be the first time the Nepal government has taken the mountain's height."

Scientists will drop three reference points onto the mountain and use GPS to do to the calculation.

That's unlikely to be an end to the matter, though. The US National Geographic Society has set the height at 8,850m, following a 1999 American expedition which similarly used GPS tech to fix the figure.

Furthermore, geologists say the peak of Everest continues to rise as a result of shifting continental plates, meaning any measurement will likely be a few millimetres out of date before the Nepalese can even wave their findings in the faces of scowling Chinese officials. ®

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