LOS ANGELES, MARCH 7 -- Mount Everest may lose the title of the world's highest peak to a remote Himalayan cousin if preliminary results from a high-tech survey method are verified, an expedition leader said.
The peak, with the unglamorous name of K2 (also known as Godwin Austen), was measured last summer by the American K2 Expedition and may be as much as 900 feet taller than its previous stated height of 28,250 feet, expedition leader Lance Owens said Friday.
That would make the peak more 122 feet higher than Everest's 29,028 feet, he said.
"I guess if K2 is one inch higher than Everest, it means that everybody's been climbing the wrong mountain," Owens said in a telephone interview from Pasadena, Calif.
K2 is located 900 miles northwest of Everest in the Karakoram section of the Himalayas along the Pakistan-China border.
Owens' expedition climbed K2 from May to September 1986. Snow and avalanche conditions kept them from reaching the top. But a 150-pound surveying device called a satellite transit surveyor left at the base of the peak homed in on the radio signals of navigational satellites passing overhead and used variations in those signals to judge altitude, Owens said.
The idea was to check the last confirmed survey of K2, which was performed in the mid-19th century, Owens said.
"We really did not think that we would find the mountain higher than Everest, but the data that we have presently obtained leads us to believe that that might be the case," he said.
The expedition found that the plain on which K2 rests was 900 feet higher than the previous survey indicated. And if that was true, Owens said, then K2 itself is also higher.