Mount Everest (Tibetan: Chomolungma or Qomolangma, "Holy Mother") is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas on the Nepal side of Nepal-China (Tibet) border. Its massif includes neighboring peaks Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7855 m) and Changtse (7580 m).
In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India. Waugh named the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest. Although Tibetans had called Everest "Chomolungma" for centuries, Waugh was unaware of this because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.
The highest mountain in the world attracts many well-experienced mountaineers as well as novice climbers willing to hire professional guides. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route (other eight-thousanders such as K2 or Nanga Parbat are much more difficult), Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind.
By the end of the 2010 climbing season, there had been 5,104 ascents to the summit by about 3,142 individuals. Climbers are a significant source of tourist revenue for Nepal, whose government also requires all prospective climbers to obtain an expensive permit, costing up to US$25,000 per person. By the end of 2010 Everest had claimed 219 lives, including eight who perished during a 1996 storm high on the mountain. Conditions are so difficult in the death zone—altitudes higher than 8,000 metres (26,000 ft)—that most corpses have been left where they fell. Some of them are visible from standard climbing routes.
Climbing Mount Everest is an expensive undertaking. Just the climbing gear required to reach the summit may cost in excess of US$8,000. Most climbers use bottled oxygen, which adds around $3,000 to the cost. The permit to enter the Everest area from the south via Nepal costs $10,000 to $25,000 per person, depending on the size of the team. The ascent typically starts in one of the two base camps near the mountain, both of which are approximately 100 km from Kathmandu and 300 km from Lhasa (the two nearest cities with major airports); transferring one's equipment from the airport to the base camp may add as much as $2,000.
Beyond this point, costs may vary widely. It is technically possible to reach the summit with minimal additional expenses, and there are 'budget' travel agencies which offer logistical support for such trips. However, this is considered difficult and dangerous (as illustrated by the case of David Sharp). Many climbers hire "full service" guide companies, which provide a wide spectrum of services, including acquisition of permits, transportation to/from base camp, food, tents, medical assistance while on the mountain, an experienced mountaineer guide, and even personal porters to carry one's backpack and cook one's meals. The cost of such a guide service may range from $40,000 to $80,000 per person. Since most equipment is moved by sherpas, clients of full-service guide companies can often keep their backpack weights under 10 kg, or hire a sherpa to carry their gear for them. This can be contrasted with expeditions to less commercialized peaks (for example, climbers attempting Mount McKinley are often expected to carry 30+ kg backpacks and occasionally to tow a sled with 35 kg of gear and food.
The degree of commercialization of Mount Everest is a frequent subject of criticism. Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the son of Tenzing Norgay, said in a 2003 interview that his late father would have been shocked to discover that rich thrill-seekers with no climbing experience were now routinely reaching the summit.