Measuring a mountain on where its base starts instead of how high it rises against sea level is a more accurate way to gauge where the tallest mountains on earth can be located. Topographical prominence is how much the mountain sticks out from the surrounding landscape. This form of measurement has been used to calculate the nine tallest mountain peaks on Earth, and the tallest mountain might come as a surprise.

Puncak Jaya

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Also called the Carstensz Pyramid, at 16,024 feet above sea level, it is the highest summit of Mount Carstensz. This majestic mountain is in the Sudirman Range of the western highlands in Papau, Indonesia. Visitors can expect to see soaring vistas and a tough climb if they want to summit the peak. It is known as one of the famous Seven Summits, and Puncak’s peak is the only one that has rock climbing.

Vinson Massif

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As the tallest mountain on the most southern continent, Vinson Massif is located just 660 nautical miles from the South Pole. It is also one of the famed Seven Summits and overlooks the Ronne Ice Shelf. The highest mountain on the cold tundra of Antarctica, Vinson Mountain is one of the most isolated and remote mountain climbs to be found anywhere on earth. To climb Vinson, mountaineers need a lot of extra cash and have to qualify for the climb. On average, it costs about 40,000 USD to climb.

Pico de Orizaba

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Also known as Citlaltepetl, which means Star Mountain, Pico de Orizaba is a stratovolcano that boasts a glacier and is the tallest mountain in Mexico. It’s also the third tallest in North America. Rising almost 20,000 feet above sea level, it stretches the border between the Mexican states of Veracruz and Puebla. Pico is one of three volcanic mountains in Mexico that is home to a glacier.

Mount Logan

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Located in Canada’s Yukon Territory, Mount Logan is the tallest mountain in Canada and the second tallest in North America with a summit of 19,551 feet. What’s even more amazing is that the Mount Logan massif has one of the most extensive non-polar ice fields in the world, which means the climb is both difficult and rewarding.  

Pico Cristobal Colon

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Named for Christopher Columbus and located in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, this is the tallest mountain in Colombia. This pristine mountain has a year-round snowcap and offers spectacular views and some of the richest examples of biodiversity found on earth. If a mountain climb isn’t in the books, visitors to this mountain can take a cable car to the top.

Mount Kilimanjaro

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A dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park, this is the tallest mountain in Africa. Most experts agree that the best time to attempt the climb is during the dry months of the year. Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones and has seven different routes that can be used to reach the summit.


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Officially this mountain is known as Denali, but it’s also commonly referred to as Mount McKinley. Called by either name, it’s the tallest mountain in the United States and in North America. Denali creates its own weather, so it’s often guarded by thick, dense clouds and has several glaciers resting on its slopes. Temperatures often dip below -100 F. It has a summit over 20,320 feet above sea level, and two summits rising above the Denali Fault line.


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Located in the Andes mountain range, this mountain is almost 23,000 feet above sea level. It’s not only the tallest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, but also the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. It was originally a volcano, but shifting tectonic plates rendered the volcanic activity dormant. Now, as part of the Seven Summits, this challenging climb delights even the most experienced mountaineer. At the summit, there’s only 40% as much oxygen as at the base.

Mount Everest

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At a peak of almost 30,000 feet, this is the tallest mountain in the world. Mount Everest also boasts being the tallest mountain from base to peak. It might also be the deadliest, since more climbers die on the way to the summit than on any other mountain. Its Tibetan name, Qomolangma, means “Goddess the Third” and is the international border between China and Nepal.

No matter which mountain peaks capture the interest of the climber, no climb should ever be taken lightly. These are serious mountains with treacherous terrain and quick-changing weather conditions. From Denali to Kilimanjaro and all the mountains in between, each one is formidable, majestic, and completely worth the effort of the climb.