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What are the World's Tallest Mountains?

The world's tallest mountains, majestic giants like Everest and K2, rise above the clouds, challenging adventurers and captivating geologists. These peaks, formed by Earth's tectonic forces, are not just natural wonders but also symbols of human aspiration. How do these mountains measure up against each other, and what stories do they hold? Join us as we ascend the heights of discovery.
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

Determining the world's tallest mountains seems simple, but the answer can vary, depending on how the mountains are measured. Traditionally, the world's tallest mountains were determined as measured from sea level. By this definition, there are about 450 mountain peaks over 7,000 meters, and (430 peaks over 23,000 feet) tall. Most of these are located in the following mountain ranges: Himalaya, Karakoram, Kunlun, Hindu Kush, Hengduan, Pamir, Tanggula, Nyain'a. All of these ranges are in Asia, specifically in Nepal, China, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

In fact, when measured by sea level, the tallest mountain peak outside of Asia is Aconcagua in Argentina that is 6,959 meters (22,831 feet). That puts it at about 485th of the world's tallest mountains.

The air pressure on top of Mount Everest is about a third of that at sea level.
The air pressure on top of Mount Everest is about a third of that at sea level.

There are other ways of measuring mountains, however. Many islands are in fact undersea mountains, with just their tops poking out of the water. By this measure, Mauna Kea in Hawaii is tallest, at over 10,000 meters (32,808 feet). Measuring from the center of the planet gives yet a different result, with Ecuador's Chimborazo the tallest. This mountain is 6,384 kilometers (3,967 miles) from the Earth's core.

Here is a list of the ten highest peaks in the world, as measured from sea level. As you can see, eight of them are in or partially in Nepal:

Name Country Continent Meters Feet
Mount Everest China, Nepal Asia 8,850 29,035
K2 China, Pakistan Asia 8,611 28,251
Kangchenjunga India, Nepal Asia 8,586 28,169
Lhotse China, Nepal Asia 8,516 27,940
Makalu China, Nepal Asia 8,485 27,838
Kangchenjunga South India, Nepal Asia 8,76 27,808
Lhotse Middle Nepal Asia 8,430 27,657
Kangchenjunga West Nepal Asia 8,420 27,25
Lhotse Shar Nepal Asia 8,400 27,559
Cho Oyu China, Nepal Asia 8,201 26,906

To put some of the giants listed above into perspective with the tallest mountains on each continent the world, take a look at the following chart:

Peak Continent Country Height
Everest Asia China, Nepal Mount Everest
Aconcagua South America Argentina Mount Aconcagua
McKinley North America U.S. (Alaska) Mount McKinley
Kilimanjaro Africa Tanzania Mount Kilimanjaro
Elbrus Europe Georgia Mount Elbrus
Vinson Massif Antarctica - Vinson Massif
Mount Cook Australasia New Zealand Mount Cook

Here is a chart comparing the height of Mount Everest with other well-known mountains in the world:

Peak Country Height
Everest Nepal, China Mount Everest
Dhaulagiri Nepal Mount Dhaulagiri
Annapurna Nepal Mount Annapurna
Popocatepetl Mexico Mount Popocatepetl
Blanc France Mont Blanc
Matterhorn Switzerland, Italy Matterhorn
Rainier U.S. (Washington) Mount Rainier
Fuji Japan Mount Fuji

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the tallest mountain in the world?

K2 - the world's second tallest mountain.
K2 - the world's second tallest mountain.

The tallest mountain in the world is Mount Everest, which reaches an astonishing height of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet) above sea level. This measurement was confirmed by a 2020 survey conducted by China and Nepal, as reported by National Geographic. Mount Everest is located in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

How many mountains in the world are over 8,000 meters tall?

Kangchenjunga - the world's third tallest mountain.
Kangchenjunga - the world's third tallest mountain.

There are 14 mountains in the world that exceed 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) in height, often referred to as the "eight-thousanders." These towering peaks are all located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia. Climbers who manage to summit all of them are recognized for achieving one of mountaineering's most challenging feats.

What are the top five tallest mountains in the world?

Alaska is home to Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America.
Alaska is home to Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America.

The top five tallest mountains in the world are Mount Everest at 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet), K2 at 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), Kangchenjunga at 8,586 meters (28,169 feet), Lhotse at 8,516 meters (27,940 feet), and Makalu at 8,485 meters (27,838 feet). These peaks are renowned for their extreme altitudes and the formidable challenges they present to climbers.

Is Mount Everest still growing?

The Matterhorn, which is located on the border of Italy and Switzerland, is a tall mountain in Europe.
The Matterhorn, which is located on the border of Italy and Switzerland, is a tall mountain in Europe.

Yes, Mount Everest is still growing. According to geologists, the mountain is rising at a rate of about 4 millimeters (0.16 inches) per year due to the tectonic activity of the Indian Plate pushing northward into the Eurasian Plate. This geological process is also responsible for the formation of the Himalayas.

What are the dangers of climbing the world's tallest mountains?

Aconcagua is counted among the world's tallest mountains outside of Asia.
Aconcagua is counted among the world's tallest mountains outside of Asia.

Climbing the world's tallest mountains poses numerous dangers, including extreme altitude sickness, avalanches, crevasses, unpredictable weather, and the risk of falls. The thin air at high altitudes can lead to hypoxia, while low temperatures increase the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Despite these risks, many climbers are drawn to these peaks for the challenge and the chance to stand at the top of the world.

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Discussion Comments


Mount Maranui Estate in the Western region of Waihi Beach on the east coast of New Zealand has a peak of roughly 43.6m. If you can remain on your feet while courageously longboarding down the mind altering 43.6m from the peak roundabout at the campsite, you're doing something well.


I have read most of the posts here (up to post 62) and have seen no reference to the mean sea level, which is by no means the same as the actual sea levels at the latitudes of all the mountains measured from the sea's surface.

Isaac Asimov pointed out that Everest is the highest from mean sea level, Mauna Loa from its base, and an unremembered name of an Andean peak from the actual average of high and low tides at its own latitude. Mean sea level refers to the differences caused by the spin of the earth which, like a middle aged man, has a pot belly and is a bit thin on top. And suffers from peripheral neuropathy in the other direction. Does anyone know the name of the third 'highest mountain'?


Mount Gonga in China is 7556m above sea level (41st highest in world) and the base 1 plateau is only about 2000mm so you are viewing 5500m of mountain at a distance of just 20km. That angle is even more impressive than Everest, according to the climbing group's website I just looked at. It sounds like it would be on par with Mckinley, the difference being that Gonga's top 2km are snow covered.


Rakaposhi has a larger vertical relief from its base to summit, and in a much shorter distance, than Denali or St. Elias. Nanga Parbat drops 23,000 feet in about the same distance Denali drops 18000 feet. Still, all amazing mountains to see.


O.K. Here's the real fact: Measuring a mountain is the same as you measure a person. When you measure yourself, do you start from your feet or your knees? That's what I thought. Now, if you're six feet tall and stand in water that's four feet deep, and on shore you have a five foot person standing on land, yes, the five foot person looks taller, but lift the person in the water and he becomes taller. When you measure a mountain, you measure from the bottom (ocean floor) like a human, from the feet. If you were to lift Mauna Loa, not Mauna Kea from the ocean floor and place it next to Everest, then Mount Everest would complain of a stiff neck the next morning. Hawaii has the top three tallest mountains in the world:

And we are measuring from the ocean floor, the same way you measure yourself, from the floor.

Mauna Loa: 56,000 feet; Mauna Kea: 32,808 feet; Haleakala: 29,703 feet; Everest, from the plateau which it sits on is 29,035 feet. This is the real fact. Need proof? Check out the U.S. Geological Survey.


For those of you who keep posting about this mountain near Guam being 37,000 ft because it sits next to the Marianas Trench you don't know what you're talking about. The trench only runs along one side. That is not the base.

And for the same people who say that mountains should be measured only above water, that is your opinion. And you're wrong. A mountain is any natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relatively to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable.

Just because you can't climb it because it's mostly underwater doesn't mean it shouldn't count. By the definition of a mountain, the "Tallest Mountain" is Mauna Kea. Everest is the highest land mass on the planet. This is not opinion. This is fact. Live with it.


The way I see it, a mountain's real height is the height you have to hike in a normal distance. Usually 5-20 miles. Annapurna is close with 6000 meters (19800 feet) in 15 miles. Nanga Parbat takes it with a rise of 7000 meters(23000 feet) in 16 miles from the Indus river. Nothing comes close. That's almost a mile higher than St. Elias in the same distance.


Chimborazo isn't the closest to space but the furthest from the earths core due to the bulge at the equator caused by the earth's rotation.

I'd guess that if anything, it's further from space than other mountains of similar height due to the atmosphere building nearer the equator as well.


The mountain that is "closest to space" is Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.


Why hasn't Mt. Everest eroded down to sea-level?


It depends greatly on your definition of a mountain. If, for example, you include the Hawaiian islands, then why not entire continents? Everest all the way to the Indian Ocean? kamkatcha in Russia has volcanoes over 4500 meters high a couple of hundred miles away from an ocean trench over 7000 meters deep.

As far as clear mountain faces (steep landscape with no other hills, mountains or areas of flat land in the way) above above sea level go, Mckinley and St Elias are mentioned because they have a greater rise than Everest but there are actually several mountains in Asia with clearly larger rises.

Rakaposhi in Pakistan clearly rises 5800 meters from the Hunza Valley.

Dhaulagiri in Nepal rises 5600 meters from the Kali Gandaki Valley.

Annapurna South in Nepal clearly rises 5400 meters from the Modi Khola valley.

Namcha Barwa in Tibet rises 5300 meters from the Tsangpo gorge.


The site gives ample information about the geographical statistics of various peaks. Quite useful for research students.


Mt St. Elias has the largest vertical relief (drop) in the world, as it drops over 18,000 feet straight down to the ocean. Denali, while higher, too sits on a plateau like Everest.

If you ever get the chance to see this mountain take the opportunity, but be prepared. Because of its close location to the Pacific, the weather is vicious. It is also the second highest mountain in the US and Canada because it encompasses both borders. Two pioneers unfortunately died not too long ago trying to ski the largest vertical relief on earth.


It is interesting that Everest keeps showing up on lists of the tallest mountains in the world, when it is the highest. It is like saying a toddler standing on a ladder is the tallest person in the room, simply because their head is above everyone else's. With regard to height, Everest is the winner. With regard to being tall (which is a measure of vertical length), Mauna Kea has no real competition.


Mt Everest is the tallest peak (highest) as measured from sea level.

Mt Kea in Hawaii, if measured from it's base.

Mt St. Elias in Alaska has the world's highest vertical relief (as measured above sea level) of any mountain.

I am a climber, so sorry guys, yeah, you can measure mountain high from its base at 20,000' below sea level, but let's get real. The barometric pressure at 8850m above sea level is far more uncomfortable than the barometric pressure at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Let's talk about oxygen levels. Is there less oxygen at 8850m or at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii? I don't think so. I rest my case.


"Tallest" is measured from base to summit, making mona loa and mona kea the two tallest mountains in the world. Everest, K-2 and the rest are the highest above sea level, 'highest' in no way being the 'tallest'.


As far I knew, the tallest mountains are situated all in Asia. Mt Everest is no. 1. Virgie J.


Mount Lam Lam in Guam is the tallest. It rises from the base of the Marianas Trench, seven miles deep, to aprox. 1000 feet above sea level.


The highest mountain in the world is Mt. Everest, at nearly 30,000 ft. above sea level. However,it isn't the tallest mountain on earth. Mt. Everest sits on a plateau which is roughly 15,000 ft. above sea level which means it's only roughly 15,000 ft. tall.

Mt. Mckinley in Alaska is the tallest mountain in the world above sea level, from its base where it sits in foothills to its very top is 20,320. I thank God for all the mountains. They're all really awesome.


Actually, standing on Everest does not make you the tallest person on earth (disregarding aircraft), some mountains on the equator are much higher due to the bulge of the earth at the equator. Everest might be the highest in terms of sea level but from the center of the earth I think that Mauna Kea makes you highest.


the 17th comment gives the best answer. there is a difference between tallest and highest. and although Mauna Kea is the tallest. if you would like to view the tallest mountain by eye check out McKinley


Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa (100' shorter) are the tallest by far. Sure water covers over half of these mountains, but they are the tallest. If the tallest tree was growing out of a lake 50 feet deep, it would still be the tallest tree and I'd measure it from its bottom/base. P.S. Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain too, it has 10,000 cubic miles of mass. Think about it.


Everest isn't even the second tallest. As far as I know, above sea level {for climbers, flyers, and anything other then fish}, Mckinley {Denali} of Alaska is the tallest mountain in the world. If you were to stand at it's base, or anywhere around it for that matter, it would tower over all other mountains. Everest is actually only 12,000 feet tall. Mckinley is 18,000 feet tall. Climb that sucker. "Alaska; we do everything big."


I tend to agree with anon29822 and Fact. Mauna Kea and Chimborazo are irrelevant to me, as you don't start an expedition either from the base of the ocean or from Earth's core. Also, while Everest may be the "highest" mountain on Earth as measured from sea level, it is by no means the "tallest" mountain on Earth.

I will say that height above sea level is a measurement which should never be disregarded, as the greatest dangers of the eight-thousanders are fierce weather and oxygen levels too low to support life (even with acclimatization, one cannot remain in the death zone for more than a day). Still, most interesting to me is the climb itself; specifically, the vertical relief of a mountain above surrounding terrain, and particularly the point from which the expedition begins. The first time I looked at the mountains on a globe as a kid, I thought for sure that Denali (McKinley) was the tallest of all. It rises some 18,000-19,000 feet above its base, which is only about 1,000 feet above sea level. Also, because of its latitude and proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Denali almost has a death zone of its own, and is also the site of some of the coldest and altogether worst weather on Earth. Note that Nanga Parbat's northern Rakhiot Flank rises almost 23,000 feet above the Indus River valley. However, I've never heard of an ascent via this route.

Of course, I wouldn't say that Denali is among the most dangerous; I think that title goes to Annapurna (frequent avalanches) and K2 (technical difficulty). Before a standard route was established on Nanga Parbat, about 3 out of 4 people who attempted the mountain died on it.


Who says the Mauna kea is the highest mountain in the world he/she is wrong!! according to the list of heights above rest is the Everest is the highest! Duh!


If i might add, some people are mistaking 'highest' and 'tallest.' If one would argue highest, Everest would be what one would be looking for at 8850m above sea level. The tallest however can be measure from sea level or below. Tallest period would be Mauna Kea measuring over 30,000ft from its base below sea level, and tallest from sea level would be Kilimanjaro, followed closely by Denali, i believe.


anon18804- If you stand on the top of Mt. Everest you will not be the highest object on planet Earth. For one thing if there is someone with you who is taller, they would be higher up and also airplanes can fly higher than 29,035 feet, and so can space shuttles.


Carstensz Pyramid(4884 meters) is now considered the summit of Australasia. Australasia is sometimes called Oceana. If every land mass is to be assigned to some continent, then Indonesia should be part of Oceania (Australasia). It is true that it is an island but so is New Zealand.


If you want to consider the base of the mountain as the standard to measure, then Sagarmatha (mt_everest) base can be still considered to be same as base of Mauna Kea with all other "peaks" from that base as intermediate points towards Sagarmatha!


If a man, measuring 4 feet in height stands on a 4 foot tall stool, is he taller than a man measuring 6 feet? No, he simply is higher than him. Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain, and Everest is the highest.


Seriously guys. It all depends on which measure we are based upon. If we do measure mountains the way we measure humans, then no doubt, Mauna Kea is the tallest and Everest would be out of the league.


Unless climbers start at the seafloor, I don't see how Mauna Kea's 20,000 feet are relevant. :P

Does anyone know what the longest 'climb' is? In other words, what mountain provides the longest distance between the "trail-head" (i.e. point at which you get out of the car/truck/helicopter/plane/dog-sled) and the summit?

Both as-the-bird-flies and "trail"-length would be interesting to know.

Thanks, CL


Let’s keep to the facts. The term tall stands for the vertical size of something. Everest has a base of around 15,000 feet above sea level, so it cannot be considered even close to being the tallest mountain in the world. It is clearly the highest peak or point on Earth. Denali (McKinley) in Alaska only reaches 6194 meters above sea level, but the base is about 1000 feet above sea level and is considered taller than Everest. There may be other mountains above sea level that are taller than Everest. Mauna Kea of Hawaii still has the record using below and above sea level measurement for a single mountain. Above sea level it is Denali (McKinley) of Alaska.


Now everybody knows Everest is tallest mountain!


Mauna Kea is not the tallest mountain. Mountains should be measured from height above sea level. Therefore Everest is the tallest mountain. If you really want to get technical and say that Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain, you are still wrong. There is a mountain in Guam that is more than 37,000 feet to its base. That is because its base is in the Marianas Trench. So Mauna Kea is not the tallest Mountain, deal with it.


Anon7004 - perhaps according to your definition, Mauna Kea is not a mountain but according to record books, and most geologists, it is a mountain. Perhaps you are more of an expert than they are....


We regard Everest as the tallest because when you stand on the top of it, no object on Earth is higher than you. I don't care that Mauna Kea is taller if you measure from the base. If you stand on top of it you are quite simply not very high up at all.


There are many ways to measure mountains. Base to summit is the best in my opinion. Everest has the highest elevation, but many mountains have greater vertical relief (elevation gain from base to summit) and would appear taller to the naked eye.


Mauna Kea is considered a dormant not extinct volcano. Though it hasn't erupted in 3600 years.


Mt Everest is still growing* (*well, getting bigger because mountains don't grow like us but i will use that term for now) because india is pushing into nepal and china and other asian countries, which is why many earthquakes happen around that area, also to note the Alps in Europe are young mountains because they to are also still growing* and the mountains in Scotland such as Ben nevis are very old mountains. they used to be bigger than Mt Everest they have only eroded over millions of years. mauna kea by definition isn't a mountain it is a volcano as it is not created by two continental plates pushing together creating fold mountain also note the volcano is extinct.


what ever happened to mention of slightly taller peak nearby mt Everest? i used to hear about it ten years ago or so but not anymore. was this disproved via modern technologies?


Wow! That's so interesting! So, I did a bit of research, and here's what I've learned:

When measured from sea level, Everest is the tallest mountain. In fact, all the measurements in our article describe height above sea level.

However, if measured from the base of the mountain (where the base could be below sea level), Mauna Kea is the tallest--over 33,000 feet! Amazing that more than half the height of the mountain (20,000 feet) is actually under water!

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      By: Göran (Kartläsarn)
      The air pressure on top of Mount Everest is about a third of that at sea level.
    • K2 - the world's second tallest mountain.
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      K2 - the world's second tallest mountain.
    • Kangchenjunga - the world's third tallest mountain.
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      Kangchenjunga - the world's third tallest mountain.
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