Summit Squabble: Nepal Will Finally Measure Mount Everest’s Height

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What are a few mountain meters between friends? But when those “friends” are China and Nepal, you never know how a petty disagreement will end. Nepal now plans to put all confusion aside by measuring the height of Mount Everest on its own.

Known as the world’s tallest peak, Nepalese officials have never actually measured the height of the mountain that sits squarely between the two countries. Commonly thought to be 8,848 meters high, China touts the height at a mere 8,844 meters. That’s a massive four-meter difference, for those keeping score at home.

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Of course, other unsolicited attempts to measure the mountain have even placed it as high as 8,850 meters. With the first measurement in 1856 at 8,840 meters, Everest has come a long way. And grown plenty, apparently, too.

A spokesman with the Nepalese land reform and management ministry told the AFP that China uses its own height measurement when discussing the mountain. And since Nepal has no official tally of its own, why not figure this thing out, right?

Nepal plans to drop reference points on Everest and use global-positioning satellites to pinpoint the exact height. The entire process could take up to two years. Let’s just hope it isn’t shorter than what we’ve thought for decades.

But once those satellites do their job, Nepal and China will have to find something different to squabble about. (As long as China accepts Nepal’s measurement, that is.)

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Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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