The discovery of Everest, the highest mountain in the world, was the crowning achievement of labors by geographers, surveyors, and explorers. It was as demanding and complicated an achievement as the mountaineering and logistical skills of those who eventually climbed it. Both endeavors faced formidable obstacles – physical, psychological, political, and technical – that often appeared insurmountable.
The early exploration of Everest involved the development of measuring, mapping, and surveying techniques, which were employed by many of the great 19th-century explorers to map the earth's lesser-known regions, the terrae incognitae.
The culmination of these skills occurred in William Lambton's Great Trigonometrical Survey of the Indian sub-continent. In the 1830s, this was under the control of the Surveyor-General of India, Sir George Everest, after whom the mountain was named. This scientific endeavor provided an accurate geographical framework for a map of India, which in turn unraveled the mysteries of the Himalayas and established Mount Everest as the highest mountain in the world.
To view the gallery of photographs of the history of Everest, click on numbers 1–8 above. For more information on the history of Everest, read John Keay's essay,from .
Photo: Maull and Polyblank