Maybe you are lucky, and you live in the Rockies or Drakensbergs and can simply look out your window and see mountain striving for the sky. More likely, you cannot. According to the United Nations, only 12 percent of the world’s population lives in the mountains. Mountains are extraordinary, but their peaks are something else. While mountains are monumental anomalies springing from underfoot in an explosive display of nature, the mountain peaks are the crown jewel of any expedition. It’s the reason we’ve called them home to the gods, spirits and things we don’t understand for so long. Every mountain, even the smallest, has a peak worth the climb.. These are the three most magnificent mountain peaks on Earth.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com/Rupertuk
Mount Everest, China & Nepal
The tallest and most storied mountain on Earth, Everest needs little introduction. Standing 29,029 feet tall and known in Tibetan as Chomolungma (“Holy Mother”), Everest was first established as the tallest mountain on earth during the 1856 Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. It has been scaled and failed ever since by more than 3,100 climbers, with more than 220 losing their lives while scaling up (and down) one of two main routes (the South Col route from Nepal or the North Col route from Tibet) or dozens of lesser lines to the top of the world. All in pursuit of its coveted peak, which gives Adrenalists a sight words can’t describe.
Photo Credit: paul bica / Flickr.com
Mauna Kea, United States
What makes a mountain? Is it height? Volume? Prominence? The U.K. government officially defines a mountain as any summit that is 600 meters (1968.5 feet) or higher. What if that peak is just one distinct point on a spine of summits stretching along a ridge? Where is the mountain if it’s nestled among mountains? If you define a mountain by sheer base-to-summit height, then Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world. The active volcano rises just 13,796 feet above sea level – nearly 3 miles shorter than Everest at sea level. Measured from its base at the sea floor, where Mauna Kea suddenly shoots upwards, however, gives Mauna Kea the edge over Everest at 33,500 feet tall. That’s more than twice Everest’s base-to-peak elevation. This gives Mauna Kea’s moutain peak a special something extra.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com/Dnevill
Mount Everest might be “the tallest mountain on earth,” but its summit isn’t the highest point above the center of the earth. The Earth is wider at its equator. Earth scientists call it the “equitorial bulge,” and it makes it so mountains closer to the equator actually rise farther from Earth’s center of gravity than those located closer to the poles. For this reason, the summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador is recognized as the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from its molten core. Officially, Chimborazo is nearly 1.5 miles farther from the center of earth than Everest, despite being more than 8,000 feet closer to sea level. This is one reason Chimborazo’s peak is a prize for climbers. See it for yourself rising majestically beyond Guyaqil’s coastal haze and we’re sure you’ll agree.