What is the biggest mountain

Different than expected: the highest mountains in the world

Mountain know-how
Worth knowing • August 8, 2019

The highest mountain in the world? Mount Everest, of course. But not necessarily either. There are various approaches to classifying the highest mountains - and it is not always Everest that wins the race for pole position.

1. Measured from sea level

The most prominent value scheme is based on the highest point above sea level. This results in the following top 5 - all in the Himalaya mountains:

  1. Mount Everest (8,848 m)
  2. K2 (8,611 m)
  3. Kangchenjunga (8,586 m)
  4. Lhotse (8,516 m)
  5. Makalu (8,485 m)

2. Measured from the center of the earth

If you measure the height based on the number of kilometers from the center of the earth, a completely different picture emerges. Because the earth is not round, but flattened at the poles due to the centrifugal force, the radius of our planet is smaller at the poles, but larger at the equator.

It follows that the summit of the Chimborazo in Ecuador with 6,310 m is furthest from the center of the earth - namely a total of 6,384.557 km. Starting from this so-called geocentric maximum distance, the Chimborazo is followed in second place by Nevado Huascarán (6,768 m) in Peru, in third place by Cotopaxi (5,897 m) in Ecuador and in fourth place by Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) in Tanzania.

3. Measured from the foot of the mountain

If you don't start from the highest point, i.e. the altitude of the summit, but from the absolute number of meters in altitude, Mount Everest is moderately impressive at 3,500 m. Rather, what is taken into account is the height from the foot to the top of the mountain - and here mountains do like Mauna Kea (4,205 m) in Hawaii, Mount St. Elias (5,489 m) in Canada, Rakaposhi (7,788 m) in Pakistan and Damavand (5,610 m) in Iran.

4. Judging by dominance

If one uses the so-called topographical dominance as a reference point for the classification of height, other mountains are in turn at the top. The distance to the next highest mountain is measured, i.e. how free-standing a mountain is - Everest has no finite dominance, as there are no higher mountains than it. Hence the Aconcagua (6,962 m) in Argentina the highest mountain in the world.

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