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72" X 72" feet oil painting on polyester, 2010


Experience In Nepal

Flying in a Eurocopter AS350 B3+ helicopter to the top of Mount Everest was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life at that time. It was Christmas 2009, and I was photographing the largest mountain in the world.  Rapidly approaching what is known as the "death zone", I was fighting against frigid stinging wind with very little oxygen.  Only by force was I able to lean out of the helicopter's window to take the shots that would forever change my perception of scale. 

It was so cold, that my fingers locked up. Fortunately, from years of training, I was able to focus and capture one of the most magnificent scenes appearing before my eyes, perfectly exposed and in sharp detail. Mount Everest was a gigantic menacing silhouette towering over the helicopter. The air was so thin, that I had a hard time breathing, and a massive headache started to form. The rapid ascension squeezed my stomach into pins and knots. Comparatively, we were only a speck of metal with spinning blades floating in air next to the enormous stature of the highest mountain in the world. 

Flying over Tengboche Monastery, I could see holy monks and Sherpas walking on the ground beneath.  My Australian pilot Steven took several laps around the grand village. My specialist guide Hari, a Nepali native, was equally enjoying the magical spectacle around us.  The images being captured were from another world. The red and blue saturated paint of the buildings looked like a toy set with the Himalayan mountain range behind them.  I was in complete amazement.

Mount Everest is truly deserving to be a Natural Wonder of the World.  I hope that this painting conveys the awesome power that this scene has to offer for all to enjoy. -T. J. Mueller

About Mount Everest

Mount Everest, known in Nepali as Sagarmatha and in Tibetan as Chomolungma, is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal (Province No. 1) and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across its summit point.

The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft), recognized by China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975. In 2005, China remeasured the rock height of the mountain, with a result of 8844.43 m. There followed an argument between China and Nepal as to whether the official height should be the rock height (8,844 m., China) or the snow height (8,848 m., Nepal). In 2010, an agreement was reached by both sides that the height of Everest is 8,848 m, and Nepal recognizes China's claim that the rock height of Everest is 8,844 m.

In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society, upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India. As there appeared to be several different local names, Waugh chose to name the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite George Everest's objections.

Mount Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the "standard route") and the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall. As of 2017, nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain.

The first recorded efforts to reach Everest's summit were made by British mountaineers. As Nepal did not allow foreigners into the country at the time, the British made several attempts on the north ridge route from the Tibetan side. After the first reconnaissance expedition by the British in 1921reached 7,000 m (22,970 ft) on the North Col, the 1922 expedition pushed the north ridge route up to 8,320 m (27,300 ft), marking the first time a human had climbed above 8,000 m (26,247 ft). Seven porters were killed in an avalanche on the descent from the North Col. The 1924 expeditionresulted in one of the greatest mysteries on Everest to this day: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made a final summit attempt on 8 June but never returned, sparking debate as to whether or not they were the first to reach the top. They had been spotted high on the mountain that day but disappeared in the clouds, never to be seen again, until Mallory's body was found in 1999 at 8,155 m (26,755 ft) on the north face. Tenzing Norgayand Edmund Hillary made the first official ascent of Everest in 1953, using the southeast ridge route. Norgay had reached 8,595 m (28,199 ft) the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss expedition. The Chinese mountaineering team of Wang FuzhouGonpo, and Qu Yinhua made the first reported ascent of the peak from the north ridge on 25 May 1960.

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