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The World’s Tallest Mountain Isn’t Mount Everest

Mount Everest is beaten on two out of three metrics of height.


Charlie Haigh


Charlie Haigh

Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Charlie is the social media and marketing assistant for IFLScience, she’s currently completing a undergraduate degree in Forensic Psychology.

Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Panoramic view of Mount Everest from Kala Patthar with two tourists on the way to Everest base camp, Sagarmatha national park, Khumbu valley - Nepal

All three of these mountains are the tallest in their own special way.

Image credit: Daniel Prudek / Shutterstock

The dizzying height of Mount Everest’s 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak has cemented this famous Himalayan mountain as the tallest in the world. Semantically speaking, however, it isn’t. Measuring from base to peak, and distance from the equator, Mount Everest has been beaten hands down by two other rocky contenders.

Before you leave a strongly worded comment, Mount Everest is the highest mountain above sea level, but there are a number of different parameters for measuring the height of mountains. While Mount Everest holds the title for height above sea level, Mauna Kea in Hawai'i has the tallest measurement from base to peak. However, as a result of the Earth being slightly thicker at the equator, Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the tallest if summits are measured from the Earth’s center. 


Mauna Kea

Hawai'i’s Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that last erupted 4,500 years ago. Given the name “White Mountain” in Hawaiian, Mauna Kea’s peak sits at 4,205 meters (13,796 feet) above sea level. Despite being the highest peak in the state, this summit pales in comparison to Everest’s, however, it’s the base of Mauna Kea that often gets overlooked.

Traveling deep into the Pacific Ocean, Mauna Kea’s height more than doubles to a whopping 10,210 (33,500 feet), blasting puny Mount Everest right out of the water (pun intended).

A 75-meter (250-foot) glacier once covered the mountain’s peak during the Ice Age, leading to the formation of high-altitude lakes. The very top of the mountain is a 50-kilometer (30-mile) across dome that serves as the home of the most scientifically productive site for astronomical observations worldwide, Muanakea Observatories

Extinct volcanic craters in background from Mauna Kea summit
A view of Mauna Kea's summit.
Image credit: Marisa Estivill / Shutterstock

Mount Chimborazo

Our second technical contender is Mount Chimborazo located in the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes, central Ecuador. Mount Chimborazo is a heavily glaciated inactive volcano. From around 4,700 meters (15,400 feet) up the mountain is covered in eternal snow.


The peak of this mountain sits even higher above sea level than Mauna Kea at 6,310 meters (20,702 feet). The highest peak in Ecuador, Mount Chimborazo was long thought to be the highest mountain in the Andes, but that spot has been taken by the slightly taller Mount Aconcagua.

Despite not even being the tallest mountain in its respective mountain range, Mount Chimborazo’s unique location means it sits directly on Earth’s thickest point, making it the furthest peak from the center of the Earth.

While its peak is technically 2,539 meters (8,330 feet) shorter than Mount Everest, it is over 2,072 meters (6,800 feet) farther from the center of the Earth.

Mount Chimborazo
Mount Chimborazo seen from its base.
Image credit: Fredy Thuerig / Shutterstock

Now you know Mount Everest doesn’t have a monopoly on being the world’s tallest mountain, go forth and argue with some pub quiz masters.


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