How the highest peaks in the world got their names

Ever wondered how the highest peaks of the world got their names? From the mundane to the extraordinary – here are a few underlining stories behind the names of the world’s highest peaks.

Mount Everest (Nepal/Tibet)

The roof of the world stands at a massive 8,848 meter high from sea level and is still growing. The peak was named after Sir George Everest, former surveyor general of India. Sir Everest apparently protested the name. Mount Everest is called Sagarmathain its home country Nepal which translates to “forehead of the sky”. In neighboring Tibet, it is called Chomolungma, which means “goddess mother of mountains”.

K2 (Pakistan)

K2 is a mountaineer’s peak. In mountaineering circles, someone who has climbed K2 commands more respect than someone who have climbed Mount Everest. K2 is so deep inside the Karakoram Range that despite being the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 meter above sea level, it is not visible from any surrounding village. The peak therefore didn’t have any local name. During the first survey, the surveyors happen to label each mountain with “K” for Karakoram Range and assign a number to each mountain.

Kangchenjunga (India/Nepal)

Kangchenjunga is the world’s third highest peak at 8,586 meters is situated between India and Nepal. The word Kangchenjunga means “the five treasures of the high snow”. The name was given by local Lhopo people that lived there. The locals believe that the treasures are hidden now but will be revealed to the devout when the world is in peril.

Lhotse (Nepal/Tibet)

The fourth highest peak in the world is located in the border of Nepal and Tibet and like the ten other highest peaks in the world, is a part of the Himalayas. Lhotse is actually part of the Everest massif and is 8,516 meters high. There are two smaller peaks as well called Lhotse Middle and Lhotse Shar. In Tibetan, Lhotse translates to “south peak” which is where the mountain is in relation to Tibet.

Makalu (Nepal/Tibet)

Makalu is the world’s fifth highest peak at 8,485 meters above mean sea level. Only 19 km southeast of Mount Everest, Makalu appears to be an isolated peak roughly shaped like a four sided pyramid. The name Makalu has been derived from “Big Black”, a Sanskrit name of the Hindu god Shiva.

Cho Oyu (Nepal/Tibet)

At 8,188 meters above mean sea level, Cho OyuMountains in the Nepal China border is the sixth highest in the world. It is also called the easiesteight-thousander (mountains which are more than eight thousand meters high). The name Cho Oyu means “Turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan.

Dhaulagiri (Nepal)

Dhaulagiri 1 is the seventh highest point in the world at 8,167 meters and is one of the many high peaks in Nepal. The name Dhaulagiri is a derivation of the Sanskrit word Dhavaligiri. In Sanskrit, dhawala means dazzling, white, beautiful and giri means mountains. The name thus translates to “white mountain”.

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