Highest Peaks of the World

Knowledge

Every continent has its own famous mountain ranges and peaks. We take a look at the highest peaks across the seven continents.

MOUNT KILIMANJARO, AFRICA 

Also known as Uhuru Peak, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa. It is also the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. 

 

Height and Location: 

Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in the northeastern plains of Tanzania. It measures 40kms across and its base covers an area of about 3,88,500 hectares. Mount Kilimanjaro is 5,895mts or 19,341ft tall.

 

Geology: 

Mount Kilimanjaro started forming about 7,50,000 years ago. It has three main volcanic peaks Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo and a number of smaller parasitic cones. The last volcanic activity recorded here was over 200 years ago and resulted in today's ash pit. Since 1962, 55% of the remaining glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro have been lost to global warming.

 

Climate: 

The area has two main seasons monsoon and summer.  The intensity of the monsoons varies with the altitude. The northern side of the mountain is a lot drier than the southern side. The climate is the warmest between January and March 

 

National Park: 

The Kilimanjaro National Park covers an area of 75,353 hectares and is surrounded by a forest reserve that measures 1,07,828 hectares. In 1910, the national park was declared a game reserve by the German colonial government. The national park also protects some of the montane forest. Montane forests are natural forests with a canopy cover of less than 30% that lie between 1,200 and 1,800mts altitude. The national park was opened for public access in 1977.

Flora and Fauna: Mount Kilimanjaro is heavily populated with wildlife. Around 140 species of mammals including 87 forest species live here. These species include seven species of primates, 25 species of carnivores, 25 species of antelopes and 24 species of bats. Amazingly, 179 species of birds have also been recorded.

 

Facts:

- One can see the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the largest elephant sanctuary in the world, from atop the Shira Plateau on Mount Kilimanjaro.

- 118-year-old Tanzanian guide,  Hans Meyer assisted the first person to officially scale Mount Kilimanjaro.

- Mount Kilimanjaro's youngest cone, Kibo still emits steam and sulphur.

- 87-year-old Valtee Daniel is the oldest person to successfully scale Mount Kilimanjaro.

 

 

MOUNT ACONCAGUA, SOUTH AMERICA
Mount Aconcagua is the second highest peak on Earth. The peak was scaled for the first time on February 12, 1887 by a Swiss resident named Matthias Zurbriggen. The name Aconcagua has been derived from the Quechua language. Akun means summit, ka means another and agua means admired or feared. Translated together it means another feared or admired peak.

 

 

Height and Location:

Mount Aconcagua is 6,962mts or 22,841ft tall. It is part of the Andes mountain range in Argentina and is located in the province of Mendoza. Mount Aconcagua lies partly in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

 

Geology:

Mount Aconcagua is considered as a key area for the analysis of the geological evolution of the principal mountain range. It experiences the world's largest and most frequent earthquakes. Surprisingly, reports say that the base of the peak was formed even before the Jurassic Age! The ice on the glaciers forms a very beautiful landscape.

 

Climate: 

The Aconcagua region is extremely humid and precipitation here is often in the form of snow. Temperatures in the summer are warm, but nights are cold. During the winter, the area is covered with snow. The wind here is quite violent.

 

National Park: 

The Aconcagua National Park is located at the Main Mountain Range or the Limiting Mountain Range, approximately 180kms towards the city of Mendoza. It was declared as a natural reserve in 1983.

 

Flora and Fauna: 

The harsh weather conditions due to the high altitude result in an area of low bio-diversity. The predominant vegetation is the steppe, a region characterised by grassland plains  without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. The bushes found here include yellow firewood, Yareta and Goat Horn. Over 60 varieties of birds inhabit the area. Among them, the most typical species are the Condor and the Purple Eagle. The most common land animals are the mountain rat, Agachona and Red Fox. Other species include some amphibians and reptiles that are indigenous to high mountain regions. Fertile plains and streams are home to Spotted Sandpipers, Churrines and a variety of ducks called Torrente.

 

Facts:

- Matthew Moniz from Colorado, USA was the youngest person to reach the peak of Mount Aconcagua. He was 10 years old when he reached the peak on December 16, 2008.

- Scott Lewis is the oldest person to climb the peak. He was 87 years old when he scaled the peak on November 26, 2007.

 

 

MOUNT KOSCIUSZKO, AUSTRALIA
A Polish man named Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki explored the snowclad mountain of Mount Kosciuszko for the first time in 1840.

 

Height and Location: 

This peak is located in southeast Australia and is part of the Australian Alps. It is 2,231.4mts or 7,316ft tall. 

 

Geology: 

The area is very rocky and heavily forested and receives heavy rainfall and snowfall during the Australian winter.

 

National Park: 

The Kosciuszko National Park covers close to 6,90,000 hectares of land. Its borders contain a mix of rugged mountains and wilderness, characterised by an alpine climate. This makes it popular with recreational skiers and bushwalkers.

Flora and Fauna: Many rare and threatened plant and animal species can be found within the boundaries of the park. Nine separate wilderness areas have been identified in this area owing to its varied fauna. The park is home to one of Australia's most threatened species the Corroboree Frog. The park is also known for its wild horse population. In 2008, the number of horses in the region had reached 1,700. Much of the park is dominated by alpine woodlands, characterized by the Snow Gum. Montane and wet sclerophyll forests also occur across the ranges.

 

Facts:

- Mount Kosciuszko is the high point of the Great Dividing Range. It is a long mountain range that runs along the entire eastern part of Australia from Queensland to Victoria. Kosciuszko itself overlaps the border between New South Wales and Victoria.

- The area around Mount Kosciuszko is the coldest and snowiest part of Australia, which is mostly an arid and hot continent. Snow covers the mountain from June through October. The area also has Australia's only ski areas.

 

 

MOUNT VINSON MASSIF, ANTARCTICA

Mount Vinson Massif is the highest peak in the snow-clad continent of Antarctica. Nicholas B Clinch was one of the first people to successfully scale the peak in 1966.

 

Height and Location: 

The peak is 4,892mts or 16,050ft tall.

 

Geology: 

Much of the mass of this mountain is actually buried beneath massive ice accumulation. The mountain range which Mount Vinson Massif is part of has active volcanoes and the probability that a major eruption could occur at any time is high.

 

Flora and Fauna: 

Due to extreme weather conditions, animals cannot survive here. However, penguins and seals are found in the area.

 

Facts:

- The rocks of East Antarctica are among the oldest found on Earth. Many of the rocks found here are at least 3 billion years old.

 

 

MOUNT MCKINLEY, NORTH AMERICA

Mount McKinley was originally called Denali by the Native Americans. But in 1896, it was renamed Mount McKinley after the American President, William McKinley. Many climbers have tried to scale this huge mountain, but the first people to successfully ascend to the top are Hudson Stuck and Harry Karstens. They captured the peak on June 7, 1913.

 

Height and Location: 

It is the highest peak in North America with a height of 20,320ft. It is located in Alaska and is part of the Alaska Range.

 

Geology: 

Mount McKinley is actually still growing at a rate of about 1mm per year. Active tectonics plates beneath Alaska continually compress and fold land surfaces in Alaska. These tectonic forces are what ultimately push Mount McKinley up higher. Although it is surrounded by many glacier-clad mountains it is primarily made of granite, which is an extremely weather-resistant rock.

 

Climate: 

The long winters here are followed by short growing seasons. 80% of the bird population returns after the cold months. Summers are usually cool and damp. The weather here is so unpredictable that there have even been instances of snow in August! The north and south side of the Alaska Range have completely different climates. The Gulf of Alaska carries moisture to the south side, but the mountains block water to the north side. This makes the climate drier to the north, with huge temperature fluctuations. The south experiences moister, cooler summers and warmer winters.

 

National Park: 

The Denali National Park was established on December 2, 1980. The 6 million acres of parkland include deciduous Taiga, which is characterised by coniferous forests. Today, the park hosts more than 4,00,000 visitors who enjoy wildlife viewing, mountaineering and backpacking. Wintertime recreation includes dog-sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

 

Flora and Fauna:

Denali is home to a variety of Alaskan birds, animals and aquatic animals. The other animals seen here include the grey wolf, grizzly bear and black bear. Herds of caribou roam throughout the park. Dall sheep are often seen on mountainsides. Smaller animals such as hoary marmots, arctic ground squirrels, beavers, pikas, and snowshoe hares are seen in abundance. The park is also well known for its bird population. Many migratory species reside in the park during late spring and summer. Birdwatchers may find Waxwings,  Arctic Warblers, Pine Grosbeaks and Wheatears as well as Ptarmigan and the majestic tundra swan. Predatory birds include a variety of hawks, owls and the gyrfalcon as well as the abundant but striking golden eagle. Ten species of fish, including trout, salmon and arctic grayling, share the waters of the park. The wood frog also lives among the lakes of the park.

 

Facts: 

- The base to peak is at a higher rise in elevation than Mount Everest and is the greatest rise from any land-based mountain.

 

 

MOUNT EVEREST, ASIA

Mount Everest is the highest peak on Earth. It was named after Sir George Everest, a Welsh surveyor,  geographer and Surveyor-General of India. It was first scaled on May 29, 1953 by Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa, and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand. On May 8, 1978, Reinhold Messner from Italy and Peter Habeler from Austria used the southeast ridge route to make the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

 

Height and Location:

The peak is 29,029ft high. The mountain is part of the Himalayan range in Asia and is located on the border of Nepal and China.

 

Geology:

Most of the peak is made of limestone. Due to geological movements, the peak experiences terrible avalanches.

 

Climate: 

The climate here is extremely cold. January is considered to be the coldest month of all when temperatures go down to -36C. In winter and spring, the western winds blow against the peak and the summit. Between June and September, violent snowstorms occur. Several high velocity hurricanes have also been recorded with speeds up to 285kms per hour.

 

National Park: 

Sagarmatha National Park is located in eastern Nepal, in the southern part of Mount Everest. The park was created on July 19, 1976 and in 1979 it was declared a Natural World Heritage Site. The park covers an area of 1,148sq kms. Most of the park area is very rugged and steep.

 

Flora and Fauna: 

Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider, has been found at a height of 22,000ft, possibly making it the highest confirmed nonmicroscopic permanent resident on Earth. Birds such as the Bar-headed Goose have been seen flying at the higher altitudes of the mountain, while others, such as the Chough, have also been spotted.

 

Facts:

- This peak is 60 million years old.

- On May 24, 2000, Appa Sherpa became the first person to climb Mount Everest 11 times.

 

 

MOUNT ELBRUS, EUROPE

Mount Elbrus is the tallest peak in Europe. The peak was first conquered in 1874 by a team of Englishmen led by F Crauford Grove. The team included Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker and Swiss climber, Peter Knubel.

 

Height and Location: 

It is part of the Caucasus Mountain Range in Russia and stands 18,510ft tall.

 

Geology:

Mount Elbrus is a twoheaded cone of an inactive volcano. It is composed of both hard crystalline rocks and magmata rocks. In the valleys around the peak, mineral springs are quite common. In a few places, sulphurous fumes are also seen escaping from the ground. A handful of glacial lakes, such as Syltran-Kyol, are also seen here.

 

Climate: 

The climate of the region is related to the altitude and the dominant westerly air stream. The spring and summer weather is mainly dry, warm and clear with an average temperature of 20C. Winters and autumns are cold, dry and clear. Warm, dry winds blowing from the mountains down into the valleys in winter causes thaws, which last for several days. These are usually followed by huge snowfalls. Thunderstorms are quite common in early summer.

 

National Park: 

Being Europe's highest mountain, it is a favourite point for hikers and downhill skiers. The founding of the Prielbrusye National Park in 1986 was an important step towards ensuring the long-term preservation of this wilderness area. Prielbrusye National Park lies along the Baksan River Basin and includes the high mountain region in which the rivers headwaters form. The park stretches from the northern side of Mount Elbrus to the Caucasus Mountain Range that divides Russia from Georgia. Amazingly, 15.3% of the park consists of glaciers. These glaciers are the main source of water for the parks streams and rivers.

 

Flora and Fauna: 

The region is home to the Caucasian brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild boar, Caucasian deer, marten, forest cat, pole cat, mole, squirrel and mouse. One often encounters Caucasian goats and chamois at higher altitudes. Among the resident birds, eagles and kites are often seen. On the lower slopes, the colourful Caucasian Pheasant, mountain turkey, Keklik (stone partridge), rock pigeon and Alpine Daw are seen. Rivers are rich in trout and other fish.

 

Facts:

- The peaks location is historical as it defines the geographical border for Asia and Europe.

- The entire region is regularly subjected to strong earthquakes.  

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