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Nepal asks for a leg-up to nail Everest's height

Appeal for foreign help probably not directed at China

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The Nepalese government has been forced to ask for international assistance in nailing the exact height of Everest, less than a year after it declared it was more than capable of settling the matter once and for all.

Nepal – in common with much of the world – uses a 1955 Indian survey figure of 8,848m (29,029ft) as the height of Everest. The Chinese have persisted in shaving four metres of white stuff off this "snow height", reducing the mighty mountain to a rock height of 8,844m.

This rather churlish subtraction prompted Nepalese government spokesman Gopal Giri to announce last July: "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."

In fact, Nepal doesn't actually have the resources to do the job, according to the BBC. The director general of Nepal's Survey Department, Krishna Raj, admitted: "Since we lack the capacity to do the job on our own, we are preparing a project plan with the request for donors and we will soon be sending them out."

He added: "Funding and technology have been the main constraints. We don't have, for instance, the equipment that works in a place with -45°C temperature. We basically need data from gravity instruments, levelling points and the global positioning system to get a complete picture."

If the required Everest aid is forthcoming, Nepal hopes to provide a definitive height within a couple of years. Time will tell whether the Indians, the Chinese or indeed the US National Geographic Society – which in 1999 measured the mountain at 8,850m (29,035ft) – were right on the money. ®

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