Mountains! Great Big Mountains

I think it is fair to say that Everest being Earth’s highest mountain above sea level is common knowledge.  But is it technically the tallest? The biggest? And is it the highest point on earth?

Well let’s take a look:

The Highest Mountain – Mount Everest

When officially measured for height (altitude), we measure their height above sea level.  Everest stands at a staggering 8,848 m (29,028 ft) above sea level and therefore the highest altitude.  Nothing else can beat that.

The Tallest Mountain – Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea (Hawaii) has an altitude of just 4205 m (13,796 ft).  So, why is it the tallest? Well, two thirds of this mountain is under water.  From it’s base at the ocean floor to the summit this mountain stands at over 10,000 m (33,000 ft). Beating Everest by good 3/4 of a mile in height.

Mountains! Great Big Mountains

The Largest Mountain – Mauna Loa

Right next door to the tallest mountain is Mauna Loa, which is actually only 350 ft shorter than Kea.  However, what makes this the largest mountain on Earth is its mass.  Half of the main island of Hawaii is taken up by it.  The estimated mass is 40,000 cubic km (9,00 cu miles)

Mountains! Great Big Mountains

The Highest Point on Earth – Mount Chimborazo

A great trick question isn’t it? What is the highest point on Earth? Standing at the summit of Mount Chimborazo (Andes), 6268 m (20,564 ft), you would be standing nearer to space than at anywhere else and further away from the earth’s centre than anywhere else. Why?

Our planet is not a complete sphere, it is squashed at the top and bottom making it bulge out at a line around the equator. This Mt is only 1 degree below the equator and this makes the summit over 2 km (1.5 miles) higher from the Earth’s centre and nearer to space than that of Everest.

Mountains! Great Big Mountains

The Highest Unclimbed Mountain – Mt Gangkar Punsum

Always a cause for great debate. Reason being is what constitutes a summit.  Many great mountains have sub summits that have not been climbed.  In this case we will look at what is considered the highest unclimbed mountain outright.  Gangkar Punsum is 7,570 m (24,836 ft) in altitude.  Why is it still unclimbed? Simple. It is situated in the very closed Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas.  Mountaineering is also forbidden in the country so a climb to the top is not imminent.

Mountains! Great Big Mountains

Thanks so much for your time reading this.  As you can see there is debate.  There is also the debate that volcanoes may not be counted as mountains.  For me personally they are all summits and all to be admired, respected and enjoyed.

Written by Paul Steele

Paul is the founder and Editor of the site. An avid hiker and trekker. Travel, adventure and photography are passions that he combines to make his articles here. Likes to see the positive in everything.


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  1. I love mountains. I want to live near them. However, I am not sure about hiking and trekking up them. I will live vicariously through you until I get the courage, and energy to do so. 🙂

  2. Great topic, Paul. Those who don't acknowledge volcanoes as mountains couldn't agree that Mauna Loa is the 'largest' mountain, could they?

  3. One thing I'm wondering after reading this: what mountain has the greatest vertical rise, from a valley bottom at the base, to the peak of said mountain? It's this that gives a mountain an imposing feel to it, which is what draws me and many others to these places.

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