For centuries, 29,035-foot Mt. Everest has captured the human imagination. First, it was considered sacred by the Nepalese who lived at its base. Later, when the British discovered it to be the highest point in the world, it took on a whole new meaning for people of every nation. As with all superlatives—the longest river, the biggest wave, the steepest rock face—the tallest mountain has since attracted hordes of mountaineers who are driven by the desire to stand on top of the world.