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Mount Everest, Nepal-China

International Space Station photo (fair use policy)

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the Himalaya, which is the highest range in the world. It's still rising, thanks to the continental collision that has built the Tibetan Plateau. This view, from the International Space Station, looks southward from the plateau toward the cloud-covered Ganges plain. High-level winds are blowing a huge plume of snow off the peak.

In his wonderful book "Basin and Range," John McPhee wrote, "When the climbers in 1953 planted their flags on the highest mountain, they set them in snow over the skeletons of creatures that had lived in the warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as twenty thousand feet below the seafloor, the skeletal remains had turned into rock. This one fact is a treatise in itself on the movements of the surface of the earth. If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone."

Back to the Gallery of Peaks

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