Wilderness Wonders: Highest Peak

There is a reason the native's call it Sagarmatha, meaning "head of the sky."

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What At 29,035 feet and growing, Everest is in no danger of losing its king-of-the-hills status. The tectonic collision that began building the world’s highest summit 50 million years ago is still increasing Everest’s height by up to five millimeters each year. Because the dueling landmasses of India and Eurasia are of equal density, one can’t slide under the other; instead, the intense pressure of their impact forces the rock straight up. At the top, it’s more sky than earth: Oxygen concentrations are one-third of what they’d be at sea level, and a human can’t survive for more than a few days in the mountain’s “death zone” above 22,950 feet.

Where Everest Base Camp, Nepal. You won’t need mountaineering chops to score views of the peak on a 15-day trek from the Nepalese village of Lukla to the 17,575-foot camp, where you can scramble to the 18,000-foot-plus summit of Kala Pattar and catch a glimpse of the notorious Khumbu Icefall. yetizone.com, nepaltourism.info