Top of the world
The mighty Mount Everest crowns the Himalayas
Roughly 60 million years ago, India -- then a separate continent -- began to move rapidly northward, eventually colliding with Asia. The push crushed the land on the continental shores into what is now the highest mountain range in the world -- the Himalayas, a Sanskrit word meaning "abode of snow."
The entire range of magnificent snow-covered peaks is a natural wonder in anyone's book -- but one stands above the others quite literally. Everest -- Chomolungma to the Tibetans, and Sagarmatha to the Nepalese, who live at its base -- the tallest mountain on Earth, reaching to the skies for over 29,000 feet (8,800 meters).
Shrouded in mystery due to its height, remote location and Chinese and Nepalese restrictions on access, Everest has been the dream of climbers since the British first glimpsed the peak in the 1850s.
New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the pinnacle on May 29, 1953, the first recorded men to march over the frozen ridges and stand on the highest point in the world.
Since that day, the mountain's appeal has not wavered. More attempts to reach its top have followed in the years after Hillary and Norgay's success -- using different routes, with or without oxygen, the first woman, first solo climb and on and on. Thousands have made the attempt -- more than 700 have succeeded. And at least 150 others have died trying.