China Sends Surveyors to Mt. Everest Due to COVID-19 Lockdown

Updated: May 1, 2020

China Sends Surveyors to Mt. Everest Due to COVID-19 Lockdown

Spring climbing was canceled by China and Nepal on their respective sides of Mount Everest to prevent infections due to the coronavirus pandemic. This opened up a huge opportunity for the Chinese Ministry of National Resources to deploy a 53-member team to conduct a survey to determine the mountain’s current height and natural resources.

On-Mountain Surveying About to Start

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the survey team has been conducting preliminary scientific research since early March. This month, the surveyors are due to work directly on the mountain. The team will use China’s network of Beidou satellites, considered to be a rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS), to determine the mountain’s current elevation and natural resources. Reportedly, they will also be using other surveying technology that has been domestically developed.

Data to be Collected

Data on snow depth, weather and wind speed would also be measured to “facilitate glacier monitoring and ecological protection,” Xinhua reported. But no date was given for when the surveyors would arrive at the top of the mountain via the northern approach. In addition to the surveying work, China has also taken advantage of the lack of climbers to collect garbage from Everest and other popular climbing peaks.

Photos of the Camp

In these aerial photos, taken on April 30, 2020 and released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, vehicles and tents are seen at the base camp at the foot of the peak of Mount Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest, in southwestern China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. China sent scientists to climb Mount Everest while the world’s highest peak is empty of commercial climbers because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP)

Photos provided courtesy of China’s Xinhua News Agency via Associated Press

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Originally published on May 1, 2020

About the Author

Wendell T. Harness

I’ve been building online properties since the late 1980’s and transitioned to web design in 1999. I formed Harness Media in 2005 to help businesses grow through online marketing. I also talk to cats in a silly voice.

20 thoughts on “China Sends Surveyors to Mt. Everest Due to COVID-19 Lockdown”

  1. Posted by: @wendell
    The team will use China’s network of Beidou satellites, considered to be a rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS), to determine the mountain’s current elevation and natural resources. Reportedly, they will also be using other surveying technology that has been domestically developed.

    Gravity meter? 
    I don’t think they will get what we usually call “elevation” without one, because I doubt they will run a level line up and back.  Without gravity numbers they only have ellipsoidal height. 
    The there is also distance from the center of the earth
    https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/highestpoint.html

    Reply
    • Gravity numbers will be affected by the plumb line as well. It’s not a straight shot. Especially with all that rock under there. Who knows what anomalies will affect their numbers.
      They may be de  minimis given the numbers we are looking at but it would be interesting to see what a gravity meter could narrow it down to.

      Reply
  2. This is the Big news story carried by a lot of different agency’s. One said that China
    will use their GPS system (BeiDou) and aerial gravity plus other survey methods and equipment.
    They said that in 1975 China reported Qomolangma (the Chinese name for Mt. Everest) as being
    8848.13 meters high and in 2005 as being 8844.43 meters.
    It would be nice to read the final report but I don’t think that will happen.
     
    JOHN NOLTON

    Reply
  3. I am in the belief that the elevation changes upward and downward depending upon what is happening under the mountain and that the challenge will continue for many years.

    Reply
    • @a-harris
      I never looked at it that way before, but it stands to reason that the most extreme peak on the globe would demonstrate the most extreme effects from even minute changes. Everst is likely subject to a more extreme version of settlement/subsidence than anywhere else on the planet (above water, anyway).

      Reply
  4. I placed my mouse pointer over the summit on Google Earth so don’t waste your time. I win. f(x)=Google Earth elevation
     
    My answer=x

    Reply
  5. If they told me it was 122.7 meters amsl or they told me it was 12,230 meters amsl I would not believe them. Sorry but when you lose credibility, it takes a long time to earn it back. Just something I learned along the way and am passing on. And about those supposed ancient terracotta soldiers they unearthed dating back before anybody else had the smarts to be civilized in the rest of the world–well, it goes for that too!!!! Fool me once, shame on you-fool me twice, shame on me! just sayin’

    Reply
  6. Kudos to the Chinese for picking up the garbage. They aught to make those summit treks “carry in, carry out” from now on.

    Reply
  7. This picture confuses me.  It does not look like a GNSS receiver.  The round black thingies look like cataphotes but the cables imply it’s an active device. Possible it’s a COMM device but standard VHF handhelds do quite well at Everest.  So I’m flummoxed. Anybody know what this is?
    [attach]8143[/attach]

    Reply
    • @mike-marks I think it is just a prism pole with multiple prisms. Perhaps they had a total station at base camp to look up for a quick shot to verify the GPS. Control adjustment?? 
      [attach]8185[/attach]

      Reply
    • @mike-marks if you look close, there is a GNSS receiver on top which is what the cable is running to. Other strings are just there to tie down for stability. 

      Reply
  8. Does anyone know if they were doing any gravity Surveys? I know it goes without saying but I’m curious about the returns and if they found any anomalies. Beidou satellites are in the typical list of GPS providers

    Reply
  9. A nine prism array, pointing down to an instrument measuring up the mountain. 
    I spent a lot of time doing the same, of course not at 29,000′. 
    We would raise a 4′ tall electric conduit pipe, set an orange painted gallon ice cream bucket over it with center cut holes for the pipe and set a prism array in the pipe. Sometimes up to 12 prisms-4 sets of triples. Then measure to it from up to 30,000′ away. The ice cream bucket would really shine. Verticals taken to the 4′ mark. All with a T2 and HP distance meter. 
    The reason here would be some kind of check to the gravity measurements I assume. A lot of equipment to carry to the top of Everest. 

    Reply

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