In the whole world there are only five mountains more than five miles high. They are all in the Himalayas. Mt. Everest is the highest of them. It measures just over 29,000 ft.
Until 1953 no one had ever been able to climb Mt. Everest although many had tried. On May 29 of that year Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tensing Norkay of Nepal reached the top.
Mt. Kanchenjunga is the most beautiful of the five great peaks. It is about 1 ,000 feet lower than Everest. A British expedition led by Charles Evans climbed to six feet from the top of this mountain in 1955. To please the natives they did not climb the last few feet.
The Himalayas are in central Asia. They form a great wall between Tibet and India. For hundreds of miles this wall cannot be crossed on land. Many of the peaks are more than three miles high. During World War II the Himalayas were called "the Hump." Planes flew over the Hump to carry supplies from India to China.
Some mountains are playgrounds. But not the Himalayas. The southern slopes are very rainy, and dense forests grow on them. The northern slopes are bleak and bare. In winter the weather is bitterly cold. "Himalaya" means "home of snow."
In a story about the Himalayas called Lost Horizon, there was a valley named Shangri-La. It was a beautiful valley in the midst of the bleak, snow-covered mountains. Shangri-La has now come to mean a lovely place hidden away in some distant part of the world.
The Himalayas are young mountains. They are not many million years old. They were pushed up at the same time that the Alps were made. They are much younger than the Rockies and the Andes and much, much younger than the Appalachians.