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Mountains And Famous Climbers

Updated on January 18, 2009

Mountains have always fascinated mankind. Their glorious heights, slopes and slippery features and stony structures have always been so captivating and intriguing. There's no wonder that people always wanted to know more about mountains and scale the highest peaks of the world.

Interestingly enough, defining a mountain, like conquering a mountain, is no less challenging. The question as to what constitutes a mountain has troubled and intrigued people from the very beginning. As science has advanced, the scientists are now able to answer this question but not completely.

Well, an Encyclopaedia defines a mountain as a part of earth's surface which is at least 380m higher than the surrounding areas. Further, mountains have a restricted summit area, comparatively steep sides and considerably bare rock surface.

How is a mountain formed? Well, this is another area where science comes in to answer. According to scientists, mountains may be formed in the following three ways:

Fold mountains

These are like the Himalayas and are formed by a squeezing in of rock layers, caused by movements of the tectonic plates of the earth's crust.

Block mountains

These are like the Sierra Nevada of North America, and are formed by vertical movements between geological cracks in the earth's crust due to small movements that continue for thousands of years leading to the tilting of large blocks of Starta.

Typical volcano

It forms from the molten rock and ash that piles up around its original vent hole. The extent and speed of this is illustrated by Paracutin, a Mexican volcano that rose out of a cornfield to a height of 450m from its base between 1943 and 1952.

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

Top Mountain Peaks

Mountains may occur in single isolated masses as ranges and in systems or chains. However, ever since the mountains have been formed, they have hurled challenges to the lovers of nature. Indeed, the higher the peaks, the more irresistible the desire to conquer them.

It is interesting to note that all the top peaks, i.e. 8000m or above run along the Himalayas in Asia. More interestingly, out of these 14, nine are in Nepal (Mt. Everest, 8848m; Mt. Kanchanjunga, 8586m; Mt. Lhotse, 8516m; Mt Makalu, 8463m; Mt. Cho Oyu, 8201m; Mt. Dhaulagiri, 8167m; Mt. Manaslu, 8163m; Mt. Annapurna, 8091m; Mt. Gasherbrum I, 8068m) and four in Pakistan (Mt. K2, 8611m; Mt. Nanga Parbat, 8125m; Mt. Broad Peak, 8047m; Mt. Gasherbrum II, 8035m). The Shisha Pangma mountain, 8013m, is shared by Nepal and China.

Sir Edmund Hillary
Sir Edmund Hillary

Top Conquerers And Records

All these peaks - the highest peaks of the world - have been visited by very brave people, the lovers of nature and adventurers. All these have been overpowered. The table below gives the details about the conquest of these mountains.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Sherpa were the first to reach the top of Mt. Everest in 1953. After them, many more conquered the Everest. Junko Tabei, a Japanese, became the first woman to conquer Everest on May 16, 1975. The first Nepali woman to reach the top of Everest was Pasang Lhamu Sherpa in April 1993 but sadly she never came back. Cathy ‘O' Doud, a South African, was the first woman to scale Everest from both sides. Yet another Sherpa, Angrita Sherpa, better known as "Snow Leopard", conquered Everest ten times without oxygen. The record of staying atop of Everest for the longest period of time goes to Late Babu Chirri Sherpa, who stayed at the top of Everest for 21 hours in the year 2000. Another Sherpa, Temba Tsering, became the youngest climber of Everest at the age of 15 in 2001. Italian Reinhold Messner and Australian Peter Hobelerto hold the record of scaling Everest without artificial oxygen in 1978. Reinhold also completed the world's first solo ascent to Everest on August 20, 1980.

The oldest man to climb Everest was Lave Sharkshov who was then 60 years old. The first married couple to ascend the top of the Everest were Amdrej and Marija on October 7, 1990. Kaii Sherpa holds the record of reaching atop of Everest in 20 hours 24 minutes and became the fastest conqueror. The first disabled person to get to the top was an American, Tom Whittaker. He scaled Mt. Everest on May 27, 1998. As many as 40 climbers reached atop of Everest on a single day in May 1993. They created the record for the largest number of climbers to reach the summit on any single day. Temba Tsheri, a 16-year-old Nepalese was the World's youngest person to conquer Mount Everest on May 22, 2000.

Thus many records have been made on Everest by the people from various countries. However, there were unlucky ones also who lost their lives while attempting the great feat. Among the dead, most were the nationals of Nepal itself. The dead were from as many as 22 other countries including India, Japan, Britain, China, America, Poland, Czechoslovakia etc.

By now, many people have successfully scaled the Everest and other peaks. Though some have lost their lives, there are plenty of other adventurers who continue to aspire to reach the top of the world. They throng in Nepal and other countries, and try to climb into the sky and also come to Pakistan.

Mountains are charming specially when we see their tops above the sky and filled with white snow. Many hill resorts have been built around for the people who love this gift of nature, visit the mountain sites and enjoy themselves with the cool and fresh weather.


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