The Mount Everest Maps
In the November 1988 issue of the National Geographic the most accurate map of Mount Everest (1:50,000) ever produced was published as a supplement. Also, in that same issue the map was described in an article “Surveying the Third Pole” by Bradford Washburn. This magnificent cartographic product culminated many years of effort by Bradford Washburn and his project team and it is one of the most dramatic cartographic accomplishments of this century.
In addition, there are ten large scale map manuscripts (1:10,000) and the resulting large-scale shaded relief map (1:15,000) which are superb and provide an outstanding and everlasting cartographic rendition of a significant part of the earth. In reaching that conclusion many considerations and realities are involved, including project area (terrain variances, terrain accessibility, climatic conditions, political boundaries); evaluation and utilization of critical earlier source materials (maps, ground control, ground photography and imagery); obtaining the most modem and space photographic imagery attainable; and using the most precise positioning, advanced photogrammetric and cartographic techniques possible. There are also twelve new sheets on a scale of 1:2,500 with five-meter contours of just Everest itself.
These maps of Mount Everest will not only serve as the base of many future scientific studies by geologists, glaciologists, geodesists, hydrologists, etc., but they will serve as factual proof and models of what can be accomplished over remote, desolate and barren areas of the world.
More importantly, the maps reflect what Washburn was able to accomplish utilizing a truly International team (United States, Switzerland, Nepal, People’s Republic of China, Great Britain, West Germany, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Japan) of outstanding scientific and technical talent. Washburn stated early on “our new map would depend heavily on the diligent work of the heroes of the past, strengthened and expanded by the most sophisticated modem science.” Washburn’s dogged persistence, determination, and leadership have made maps of Mount Everest that will stand the test of time.
Owen W. Williams