Parts of the land surface which stand at a much higher level than the areas surrounding it are called mountains. Most mountains are roughly cone- shaped. The highest mountains in the world belong to a range or group of mountains, famous for their high peaks. Mountains are one of the most fascinating landforms.
Open your atlas and find mountain Everest, the highest peak of the Himalayan Range. This is also the highest peak in the world- being 8,848m high. For many decades Mount Everest has drawn and attracted mountain climbing from all over the earth.
Climbing High Mountain began as a sport in the nineteenth century when some mountaineers successfully scaled some mountains Switzerland. While climbing mountains the air pressure drops steadily as we go higher up and it gets bitingly cold. It is also very windy on the exposed slopes. For these reasons mountains need proper clothing and mountain gear. By the end of the nineteenth century, such equipment for climbing was devised and mountaineers could scale heights that seemed impossible earlier. Metal pegs called pitons were hammered into the face of the rock and connected with snap links to ropes- which are now made of strong, lightweight, nylon. Small ice-axes of steel are used to help the climber chop steps into the ice. Molded rubber –soled shoes with small spikes prevent slipping. Mountaineers wear light but warm quilted clothes and they carry an oxygen cylinder with them if they go very high- As the air is too `rarefied’ for human beings to breathe easily at such heights.
In order to protect themselves from snow –blindness, caused by the glare of the sun’s reflection on the snow, mountaineers wear special dark glasses. Forest-bite poses another hazard. This happens when blood circulation on the exposed parts of the body is affected by the cold. The climber also has to guard against falling into the huge crevasses or cracks on the mountain surface that is lightly covered with snow. One false step and the climber may fall hundreds of meters below to his death. They also face the fear of being buried by an avalanche. Large amounts of snow and ice slowly collect on the steep side of the mountain gradually growing to such a massive size that it starts sliding down the mountain side –uprooting trees and boulders on its path of descent. All buildings, roads and even whole villages that lie in its path are damaged extensively and a climber caught in an avalanche has of course no chance of survival.
In spite of all these hazards, Tenzing Norgay grew up with the determination to climb mountain Everest, the highest peak in the world. He first started as a /Nepal Sherpa, or bearer who are famous for their expert guidance and help in Himalayan expeditions. Tenzing worked hard and soon became a sirdar, or leader.
For decades people from the corners of the earth had tried in vain to climb Mount Everest. No one had ever succeeded. Many had even died in the attempt. Tenzing had gone as a Sherpa on May of these expeditions. He has already gone up the route of Mountain Everest six times when he was asked to join an expedition by Col. John Hunt, leaders of the British team in 1953. Finally of May 29, 1953, two of the bravest men in the world, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood at the top of Mountain Everest, the highest peak in the world, at the precise hour of 11.30 am.
The slope of the land is quite gentle-near the base of the mountain. These lower slopes have a warm climate, fertile soil and as a result they are well-populated. Agriculture is carried on. Further up the slopes on the mountains, one can find belts of deciduous forests. These trees shed their leaves every ear during the cold season and again young leaf-buds and new leaves appear at the beginning of summer. Further up the mountain these trees are mixed with conifers. Conifers are cone –shaped trees, pointed on top but broad at the bottom. The leaves of these trees are needle –shaped.
The timberline is the upper limit of the tree rowing area. Above this line, trees will not grow. The height of the line varies from one place to another according to the climate. In hot climates the timberline is higher than in cold ones. The plane meadows lie above the timberline of the mountains. They are mostly tiny plants with bright flowers that grow close together to form a carpet. Some of them are used in gardens as rock-plants. There are others like edelweiss, gentian rhododendrons, primulas and ferns.
The snowline is near the top of the mountain. Above this line sow is funded all through the year. In cold countries the snowline is lower than it is in warm countries. The snow above the snowline does not melt even in summer, so the peaks of very high mountains are always covered with snow and ice.
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