How Much Does Mount Everest Weigh?

Sure, lots of people can tell you how tall Mount Everest is, but how many can tell you the weight of the mountain? Well, you're about to be the one that knows it!

mount everest seen from below

Some questions just deserve an answer, no matter how far out there or useless the information may be. If I eat myself, will I become twice as big or disappear? Of course, that question ties right into the snake eating its tail theme. How big is the Pacific Ocean? How many gallons of water are in the Mediterranean Sea? How much does Mount Everest weigh?

Mount Everest has an estimated weight and, as far as scientists can figure, it weighs roughly 350 trillion tons. To put that into perspective, it would take 26.923.076.923 African Bush Elephants, piled on top of each other, to match the weight of Mount Everest.

The average African Bush Elephant weighs 13.000 lb. or 6 and ½ tons. That’s a lot of elephants. The truth is, it’s difficult to come up with a close approximation of Mount Everest’s true weight because there are a few extenuating factors that also have to be considered.

Factors in calculating the weight of Mount Everest

The Himalayas
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

Mount Everest doesn’t stand as the highest point on the entire planet entirely alone. It’s also covered in snow and no matter how far you can throw a snowball, it still has to come back down because it has weight.

You also have to consider the different types of rock or metals that are in the mountain, which are difficult to figure out since we can’t take Mount Everest apart rock by rock and take a peek inside.

We have scientific instruments that can do much of that for us, but they aren’t infallible, especially when tasked with surveying the depths of the world’s tallest mountain. There is also the matter of trees. When you look at pictures of Mount Everest, you don’t see much in the way of trees, but they are there, mostly closer to the base.

Fortunately, we only have to estimate. No one’s life depends on whether or not they can come up with the exact weight of Mount Everest, all the way down to the last milligram. There is a way for all of us to calculate the weight of a mountain, whether it’s Mount Everest or one that is closer to home.

The changing of weight based on elevation and gravity

Mount Everest stands at 29,032 ft. high and the gravity at nearly 30,000 ft. of elevation is not exactly the same as it is where you are currently standing or sitting. The higher that you go up Mount Everest, the weaker the gravity is, which also affects the weight calculation.

That’s why we would all die in just a few minutes if the Sun were to suddenly close the gap between itself and Earth by 1.000 miles. If the moon suddenly closed the gap by 1.000 miles, life on earth would drastically change because of the moon’s gravitational effect.

In other words, the closer you are to the mass of a planet, the stronger the gravitational force. None of this is taking into consideration the fact that it is believed Mount Everest is steadily growing taller.

How to calculate the weight of Mount Everest

To calculate the weight of Mount Everest, or any mountain for that matter, you have to have several “knowns”, such as height, the radius of the base, and the square radius of the circle multiplied by pi. When we say ‘circle’, we are referring to the base of the mountain, because the only real way to calculate this is to assume the shape of a cone.

You have to first find the volume of this cone and then convert volume into pounds to determine the overall weight. Volume, in this case, will be measured in cubic feet, since we deal with the height of the mountain and the radius of the mountain in feet.

The formula for the volume of a cone is V = ⅓𝜋r²h. Most mountains can be calculated by using the volume of a cone and converting the volume into a weight. Scientists have much more precise methods of calculation but it’s fun for the rest of us to play some math and figure out what that gigantic pointy rock weighs.

The overall weight of Mount Everest will change over time as well. Currently, the tectonic plates that are responsible for creating Mount Everest are still crushing together. Much like a human bone in its early years, Everest is continuing to stretch and groan its way out of the earth at an unnoticeable rate.

All in all, Mount Everest is roughly 84.702 cubic ft. in volume or 2398.5 cubic meters.

What is the mass of Mount Everest?

The Himalayas
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

Mass is not the same thing as weight. After all, you can purchase a pilates ball big enough to sleep on and it still won’t weigh as much as a bowling ball. The mass of Mount Everest is roughly 6.399.000.000.000 metric tons, which is almost as big as Peter Griffin of Family Guy fame.

If you were to unanchor Mount Everest and send it hurtling into space, the loss of that much mass and density would probably have an effect on the earth. If you were to place a man or a woman on Mount Everest as it hurdles through space, Mount Everest would have enough mass to have a gravitational effect that would be noticeable.

For something that exists on our planet that is big enough to have its own gravitational pull, is something worthy of awe. Of course, Mount Everest doesn’t hold a candle to Mars’ Olympus Mons, which stands roughly 16 miles in elevation from the surface of the planet but Everest belongs to us, and it’s something to be proud of all the same.

What is Mount Everest composed of?

Photo by Scott Webb / Unsplash

Part of the difficulty of ascertaining the exact mass and weight of something like Mount Everest is that it is composed of a different variety of rocks and metals, all of which come with their own distinct weights and density.

Outside of the sedimentary layers that compose Mount Everest, the very top layers are positively scattered with fossils that date from hundreds of millions of years ago, back when the peak of Mount Everest was once the bottom of a lake or a sea.

Below that, digging into the crust of Mount Everest, you would find several different layers of rock, including marine limestone, marble, limestone, shale, perlite, granite, and pegmatite. Perlite is a form of natural glass and has an apparent density of 2.5 to 10.5 pounds per cubic foot.

Limestone has a density of 169.24 pounds per cubic foot and is used in a ton of different applications like steel manufacturing, paper mills, water purification methods, plastic production, and construction.

Marble has the same density values as limestone and is used in a lot of applications as well, such as monuments, gravestones, tombs, table tops, and premium interior decoration. It was also used for a lot of historic buildings and monuments that still stand today.

Shale has a lot of commercial uses and if you have a brick house, then the odds are, you have some shale in it. It has a density of 166.99 pounds per cubic foot.

The list goes on and on with the rest but the point is, that all of these sediments have their own densities, mass, and weights that contribute to scientific calculations of how much Mount Everest weighs.

It makes the idea of using the volume of a cone seem partly absurd. But volume is generally the quickest way to reach an estimation of how much a mountain weighs and is useful for any mountain or hill that you come across that has the general shape of a cone.

Technically Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain

Mount Everest’s peak is the highest point above sea level on the entire planet. Of course, most people take that fact and run with it for what it’s worth. It is also largely taught that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on earth.

If we were to judge “tallest” rather than farthest from sea level, then Mount Chimborazo gets the true prize because it has the greatest distance from the earth’s center, rather than having the highest point above sea level. It’s even weirder when you consider that Mount Chimborazo is the 39th tallest peak in the Andes.

Since Mount Everest bathes in the glorious rays of appreciation and fame for being the “world’s tallest mountain”, most people couldn’t tell you where Mount Chimborazo is, what it is, or how tall it is. Despite its tallness, it will always dwell in the shadow of Mount Everest.

Final thoughts

350 trillion tons is a mind-blowing number to be sure and that’s certainly not the only insanely intriguing fact about Mount Everest. This monstrous mountain that stretches closer to the sun than anything else on the planet’s surface has been conquered a little over 4,000 times.

Mount Everest has its share of blood as well, having killed more than 300 people who dared to seek their fame and glory at its peak. One thing is certain. As high as it is and as heavy as it is, Mount Everest is a giant in the nightmares of those it has conquered and the dream of those who wish to seek its peak.