Where is Mount Everest - The tallest mountain on Earth?

Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary reached its peak back in 1953, thousands of adventures have set out to conquer the deadly summit of Mount Everest in Nepal.

In fact, so many people give it a shot every year that this Himalayan beauty is slowly turning into a literal pile of crap. Everest owes its popularity to the impressive title of 'highest mountain in the world', but in reality, it isn't - not, according to science.

Mount Everest is called the world's highest mountain because it has the "highest elevation above sea level." We could also say that it has the "highest altitude." The peak of Mount Everest is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. No other mountain on Earth has a higher altitude.

The world's tallest mountain technically is not Mount Everest.

The tallest mountain on Earth: Mount Everest, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and now Chimborazo in Ecuador?

An altitude of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level makes Mount Everest the mountain on Earth with the highest altitude. "Highest altitude" means that it has the highest elevation above mean sea level.
Each year hundreds of people attempt to climb Everest. About 5000 people have been successful - some multiple times. However, about 300 people have died climbing Everest - that is a mortality rate of about 6%!

Where is Chimborazo - Farthest from the Center of the Earth?

The Himalayan mountain is actually beaten by Chimborazo, in Ecuador. But Everest still wins on the traditional metrics: it’s nearly 9,000m above sea level, thousands more than any of its closest rivals. But it’s not actually the furthest up, or the closest to space. Ecuador’s mountain tops it on that measure, and it’s all because of the Earth’s funny shape.

Everest only wins when measured from sea level. But if instead you measure out from the centre of the Earth, Chimborazo wins easily – and Everest wouldn’t even get into the top 20 mountains, Independent cites.

According to Eli Rosenberg for The New York Times, Chimborazo's summit rises 20,500 feet (6,248 metres) above sea level, which is shorter than Everest by 8,529 feet (2,600 metres), but that all changes when measured from the centre of Earth.

Basically, since Earth isn't flat (sorry, B.o.B), it bulges outward at the equator and flattens near the poles.

This means that mountains near the equator are technically higher than those in other areas, and it just so happens that Chimborazo is almost smack-dab on our planet's waistline, while Everest is 28 degrees north.

Mount Everest Isn"t Really The Tallest Mountain on Earth
Mount Chimborazo (Photo: The guardian)

So how much higher is it? Well, according to one report, Everest stretches a distance of 3,965 miles (6,382 kilometres) from Earth's centre.

Meanwhile, Chimborazo stretches 3,967 miles (6,384 kilometres). Though it's only a 2-mile (3.2 km) difference, it means everything when it comes to crowning height titles. In fact, those 2 miles are enough to put Chimborazo at number one, and kick Everest out of the top 20.

This isn't exactly news, though - NPR ran a report about Chimborazo back in 2007. So why does Everest continue to get all the love, while Chimborazo goes relatively unnoticed? Well, it all comes down to how hard the climb is.

If you're a mountain climber, you want the hardest challenge, which is what Everest offers.

It takes 10 days to merely make it to Everest's base camp, six weeks to acclimatise, and then the arduous nine-day climb to the top. On the other hand, Chimborazo takes about two days to climb after acclimatising (about two weeks), reports Rosenberg.

Also, it's important to mention again that Everest still takes the cake when measured at sea level.

If you're using that as a metric, Chimborazo wouldn't even rank as the tallest peak in the Andes. That title belongs to Mount Aconcagua, which rises 22,828 feet (6,961 metres) above sea level.

So, if you've already made plans to climb Everest and earn your name a place alongside Sr Edmund Hillary's, fear not, because you are still climbing the tallest mountain in the world - if sea level is your metric. After that, you might as well hit up Chimborazo, because that climb will seem like a walk in the park.

Mount Everest has a higher altitude, and Mauna Kea is "taller." However, the top of Chimborazo is farther from the center of the Earth than the top of Mount Everest and the top of Mauna Kea.

Earth's shape is not a perfect sphere. Instead, it is an oblate spheroid - meaning that it is a few miles wider at its equator than locations north and south of the equator. In addition, Earth's shape is also a slightly pear-shaped oblate spheroid - meaning that it is a few miles wider below the equator than above the equator.

That shape makes it possible for the top of Chimborazo, which is located slightly south of the equator (and shorter than Mount Everest) to be farther from the center of the Earth than the top of Mount Everest (which is a considerable distance north of the equator).

Where is Mauna Kea - Highest Mountain in the World?

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain above sea level, but if we're talking sheer height here, base to summit, then the tallest mountain is Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii.

Here's how it breaks down:

Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level. Mauna Kea only stands 13,796 feet above seal level, but the mountain extends about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean. Over half of it is submerged.

That puts the total height of Mauna Kea at about 33,500 feet — nearly a mile taller than Everest.

The tallest mountain on Earth: Mount Everest, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and now Chimborazo in Ecuador?
Tallest Mountain: The base of Mauna Kea is about 6000 meters below sea level, and the summit is about 4000 meters above sea level. The distance between the foot of the mountain and the summit is about 10,000 meters. This makes Mauna Kea the "tallest" mountain in the world.
Construction of a 14th telescope recently inspired mass protests on the mountainside by native Hawaiians who consider Mauna Kea sacred ground.
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