14 Sep 2020 Peak Climbing Nepal
How old is Mount Everest? Mount Everest (8848 m), the tallest mountain peak in the world is quite popular among avid mountaineers and trekkers. Hundreds of climbers make it to this spectacular mountain peak to record their names in history books every year. Besides that, trekkers also flock the Everest region to go on a stunning adventure in the Himalayan foothills.
Millions of years ago, there was no Mount Everest or any other Himalayan range of mountains. Then, how was Mount Everest formed? According to the theory of plate tectonics, Mount Everest was formed under the cofunction of continental shuffle, natural forces, and mountain formation mechanics.
Mount Everest is a part of the Mahalangur Himalayan range, and its age is the same as that of the Himalayas. But how old is Mount Everest and what is its geological age? You might wonder. This article will provide you with all details regarding age, and formation of Mount Everest.
Read further to know more about how old is Mount Everest and other relevant information in detail.
Table of Contents
How old is Mount Everest?
Around 250 million years ago, Indian, Africa, South America, and Australia continents were not separated and were collectively called Pangea. During the next few million years, “Pangea” or the giant continent broke up and slowly formed the continents. In this process, the edges of Pangea became the new continents’ collision zones.
According to a study, the collision of the Indian and the Eurasian plate gave birth to the Himalayas around 40 million to 50 million years ago. This geological period is commonly known as Eocene Epoch. The collision also led to extraordinary geologic results like the creation of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.
This process also changed the global climatic condition by alternating the weathering patterns. The carbon transfer rate to the atmosphere and the wind circulation also changed immensely. Moreover, the collusion made changes in the productivity pattern of the oceanic region by increasing erosion and the nutrient runoff to the Indian Ocean.
There was “Tethys” ocean between these two Plates. The Ocean Indian Plate collision with China’s Tibet started at least 80 million years ago. The north edge of the Ocean Indian Plate plunged into the Earth’s mantle and dragged the whole Indian continent towards China’s Tibet.
Around 55 million years ago, The Tethys Ocean was completely closed in as two plates collided. The ocean floor sediment squeezed, and lightweight sediments crumpled into the Himalayas mountain ranges. The massive collision led to the formation of Mount Everest, along with the entire Himalayan range.
The plates collided, and the ocean floor sank. The collision generated volcanoes in Tibet as the top rock of the Indian plate melted due to the high friction and pressure. There are fossils found in the Himalaya sedimentary rocks that provide the fact that the Himalayas were once an ancient seabed.
About ten million years ago, there started a direct collision between the Indian continent and the Asian continent. Enormous light quartz-rich rocks of the Indian continent could not descend which broke its anchor and the Indian continent ceased descending anymore.
However, the Indian Plate is still moving towards the Tibetan Plateau at a speed of 67mm per year. This Tibet Plateau is moving upwards and the height of Mount Everest is increasing gradually as well.
What is the Actual Age of Mount Everest?
It was previously concluded that Mount Everest’s age was around 55 million years as this collision dates back to 55 million years. However, newer studies also provide proof of a mountain range that dates back to 500 million years. While the Indian plate and Eurasian plate collided to form a mountain range around 55 million years ago. The geological age of Mount Everest is around 500 million years.
Geology of Mount Everest
Everest has multiple layers of rock that get folded on the back of each other. The lower elevation rocks consist of metamorphic rocks with granites on top. On higher elevations, there are sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks are of marine seabeds originating from the ancient Tethys Sea that was responsible for the closing of the collision of the two plates.
Among them, the Yellow Band is quite notable which is a limestone formation. You can observe them just below the summit pyramid. The Everest summit is the culmination of the barren Southeast, Northeast, and West ridges. The South Summit is a few meters away with a minor bump on the Southeast Ridge at 8,748 meters.
There is Changtse (7,560 meters), Nuptse (7,861 meters), Khumbutse (6,665 meters), and Lhotse (8,516 meters), and others in various sides of mountains. Everest has the shape of a three-sided pyramid. The three sides are generally flat planes also known as faces, and a ridge is a line that joins two faces. The North Face in Tibet remains bounded by the North Ridge which further meets the West and the Northeast Ridge.
Key features of this side include the North Col at the start of the North Ridge and the steep gullies. The Southwest Face in Nepal remains bounded by Southeast Ridge and West Ridge. Key features on this site include Khumbu Icefall and the South Col. located at the Southeast Ridge.
The Khumbu icefall is a jumble of large blocks of ice that is a great challenge for climbers. Similarly, The East face or Kangshung (Kangxung) face in Tibet remains bounded by the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge. There is rock-hard snow in the summit itself that remains covered with a layer of softer snow. The level of snow changes around 5–20 feet (1.5–6 meters) based on seasons.
In September, the snow level is highest after the monsoon, and it is lowest in May as it gets depleted by the strong winds from the Northwest. The summit is very high in the Earth’s atmosphere. The oxygen levels are one-third of what it is at sea level. Hence, low oxygen, freezing temperatures, and powerful winds make this region inhabitable for wildlife.
Water Resources and Climate of Mount Everest
Glaciers cover the slopes of Everest to its base. There are Kangshung Glaciers to the East, West Rongbuk (Rongpu) glaciers to the North, and the Pumori Glacier to the Northwest. Similarly, there is the Khumbu Glacier to the West and South, formed by the glacier bed. It lies in an enclosed valley of ice between Everest and the Lhotse-Nuptse Ridge to the South.
There is the heavy and continuous erosion of Everest due to glacial action. The Khumbu Glacier melts into the Lobuche River which flows southward to the confluence of the Imja River and the Dudh Kosi River. The Rong River originates from the Pumori peak in Tibet and Rongbuk glaciers.
The Kama River originates from the Kangshung Glacier. Both these rivers flow into the Arun River and cut through the Himalayas into Nepal. The Rong, Dudh Kosi, and Kama river valleys form the Northern, Southern, and Eastern access routes respectively to the summit.
The climate is extreme and not favorable to wildlife. The daytime temperature in July is around -2 °F (-19 °C) on the summit which is warmest. Similarly, summit temperatures average -33 °F (-36 °C) and can drop as low as -76 °F (-60 °C) in January, which is the coldest month. Storms are occasional but can make temperatures plummet unexpectedly.
The summit also reaches the lower limit of the jet stream and there are sustained winds of 100 miles (160 km) per hour or more. The summer monsoon season from late May to mid-September brings heavy rainfall and snowfall. The climbers on Everest are prone to frostbite in these seasons.
Mount Everest Expedition
Mount Everest Expedition is a challenging adventure that is in the bucket list of many climbers. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa ascended this mountain peak for the first time in 1953. Many climbers have lost their lives in their ascend of this difficult peak. It requires proper preparation and training to complete this expedition.
Various expedition organizers will provide you proper expedition experiences. These expeditions also require overcoming various obstacles and challenges. There are various risk factors that you should tackle as well. Low-oxygen environments and freezing temperatures is something that you should consider as they can cause many challenges to trekkers.
The “death zone” at 8 000 meters is an infamous challenging section of the Mt Everest expedition. The lack of oxygen in the region leads to impaired judgment, heart attacks, strokes, and other risks. The training regime that includes various strength, endurance, and stamina building exercises are essential. Various cardiovascular exercises like cycling, hiking, swimming, and others will help you gain a basic level of fitness.
Altitude sickness is another part of this incredible ascent that you must consider and prepare. High altitude conditions have oxygen levels and air pressure at an extremely low level and thus climbers should make sure that they are well acclimatized. Going up and down from EBC is a great way to acclimatize before the actual expedition. Mt Everest expedition requires proper preparation and training at least six months before the climb.
Everest Base Camp Trek
The Everest Base Camp (5,364m) trek is a great alternative to the Everest expedition. It is a short and exciting trip that does not require excessive mountaineering skills and just a basic level of fitness. Thus, the EBC trek is a spectacular opportunity to explore the region.
Trekkers will take a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and pass through settlements of Mt Everest, Makalu, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, and others. Some motorways can take you to Lukla, hence, you need to take a flight to Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary airport. The narrow runway of the airport and amazing aerial views make it a thrilling adventure.
The guides and porters will guide you through the trek as you ascent towards Everest Base Camp from Lukla. Himalayan foothills are ideal for trekkers and hikers. The breathtaking views of the Himalayas, pristine waterfalls, serene glaciers, and forested hills are highlights of this trek.
You will also have the opportunity to explore the local Sherpa culture, heritage, and lifestyle. They Tibetan Buddhism influenced culture will amaze you. This incredible trip of a life time will give you great memories. The lush, green forest trails pass through mountain villages and friendly people.
Moreover, the acclimatization along the trail is essential as you will need it to tackle altitude sickness. You will pass through sparkling pools of water with several suspension bridges. Trekkers will pass through Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, and Gorak Shep to arrive at EBC.
You will stay at local tea houses and lodges and taste their delicious cuisine. The Sherpa way of life is a great and unique perspective of the region. The Khumbu glacier and the other landscapes of the region are the prime attractions of trek. The culture and belief system influenced by Tibetan Buddhism is evident in the monasteries and gompas including the historic Tengboche Monastery.
Similar articles you may like:
- Where is Mount Everest Situated?
- How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt. Everest?
- Everest Base Camp to Summit
The Final say
The collision or shuffling of continents formed a supercontinent called, “Pangaea.” Pangaea also broke off several million years later and led to the creation of other continents. The Indo-Australian Plate started to move gradually northwards to the Eurasian Plate around 70 million years ago.
The movement of the Indo-Australian Plate was at a rate of 15cm northwards per year. Finally, the Indian plate and Eurasian plate collided to form the Himalayan mountain range around 55 million years ago. Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world was also formed around the same time. We hope you learned about how old is Mount Everest through this article.