Does snow really count, the Chinese seem to think so, now...
In case you missed the furore, China and Nepal have agreed on an official height for the world's highest mountain and it is, 8,848 metres. Which is the height which Nepal said it ought to be all along. Meanwhile the Chinese had it down at four metres lower, 8,844 metres if your maths is particularly bad.
The difference is all about snow. The Nepalese figure includes the snow on the summit, the Chinese one doesn't. The whole thing led to another sort of summit, a diplomatic one in Kathmandu where the Chinese eventually recognised the 8,848 metre height, while Nepal agreed that the rock height is indeed 8,844 metres.
Just to complicate things further, while the 8,848 metre height was first confirmed by an Indian survey in 1955, American geologists using GPS equipment in 1999 came up with a third alternative figure of 8,850 metres which they put down to the continuing movement of tectonic plates shifting the mountain upwards. No prizes for guessing that Nepal doesn't accept the American figure.
All of which raises a few rather broader questions. How do you measure the height of a mountain? Any mountain? If the Nepalese are right, are there peaks which ought to be Munros in winter when capped by snow, but not in winter, or does that only apply to permanent snow? And what about added structures that aren't actually part of the mountain? That thing on top of Snowdon for example? Or trig points, do they add an extra metre or so?
And is any snow permanent these days? What if there's a big dump, does Everest suddenly gain a metre or so of height? And what about sea levels? If they do rise, do mountain heights fall and will dozens of Munro Baggers feel they've climbed a couple of unnecessary peaks?
And does it really matter when you get a summit view like the one in Tim Mosedale's video above?