The Himalayas: Then and Now

The Himalayas form the largest mountain range in the world. They also host the tallest mountain on the planet: Mt. Everest. In Nepal, the Himalayan mountain range is called “Chomolungma,” meaning Goddess of Mother Snows.

Long ago, Earth’s landmass was one giant continent called Pangaea. Over 200 million years ago, Pangaea broke in two super continents, Laurasia and Gondwana. Laurasia was made up of present day North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. Gondwana included South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. Gondwana then started to fragment, creating other continents we know today as South America and Australia. These landmasses then slowly moved towards their present positions, while Africa and India moved northward until they collided with Eurasia. These collisions moved the rocks of Southern Eurasia upward forming the Alp and Himalayan mountain ranges.

The Himalayas’ mountain peaks make up 96 of the 109 of the world's peaks that are over 24,000 feet. While the South American Andes have a longer mountain, the Himalayas are taller. Along with the Karakoram mountains, the Himalayan range is over 1,500 miles long, separating India from the rest of Asia.

In the northwest, they span the northern most part of Pakistan, the Karakorams spread to the southeast through Kashimar in northern India. The Himalayas sweep around to the east, connecting the mountains of Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, and continue to the Arunachal Pradesh province of northern Assam. The northern boundaries of these countries lie along the watershed of these mountains. The Chinese regions of Tibet and Chinese Turkestan lie the north of the Karakoram mountains to the east lives Burma. West of Karakoram Mountains one divides the Pamirs and Hindu Kush.

In 1893, the Royal Society and Royal Geographical Society sent an expedition to explore the Karakoram mountains. One of the first major peaks they climbed was Nanga Parbat, which is 26,660 feet. Many expeditions followed climbing the peak. Between the two World Wars, major effort was focused on Mt. Everest, but nobody reached the very top. After World War II, expeditions on the south side opened and became more frequent.

Earlier in 19th century, the Department of Survey of India triangulated the position of the highest peak. Triangulating is when you measure the height of something, from a far away distance. In 1856, the final calculations in 1856 that indicated the highest peak in the world, then was named after colonel Sir George Everest, former surveyor-general of India. Mount Everest then became a new target for ambitious mountaineers. On May 29, 1953, the peak a goal that others mountaineers sought to emulate Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norway. While Hillary and Tenzing climbed for seven weeks, in 2004, 26-year old Nepalese Sherpa Pembra Darji, climbed the peak in eight hours and 10 minutes, the fastest assent on record. Today mountaineers challenge themselves in new ways and they attempt the peak alone, and without the use of oxygen tanks.

[Source: 100 Great Wonders of the World]

This is such a well written article Srijan. I never knew so much about the Himalayas. Good Work. – TaylorUW-Madison (2016-05-19 17:42)