When we think of the highest mountains, the first one that tends to spring to mind is the mighty Mount Everest, at an impressive elevation of 8,850m. It is easy to forget the others that exist in the shadow of this imposing giant peak. A mountain range is a collection of mountains. The highest mountains are dominated by The Himalayas mountain range and include K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu.
Some of the highest mountains are in fact skiable. From above 8000m, Everest, Cho Oyu, Manaslu, GasherBrum II and Shisha Pangma have seen more than five descents, while Kangchenjunga, Makalu and Broad have reportedly not been skied by anyone. Extreme skiers have wanted to tick off the world's highest peaks but it's not always possible due to dangerous icy slopes and ski gear being too heavy to carry up to these high altitudes.
The Himalayas is a monstrous mountain range that is home to nine of the highest peaks in the world; the legendary Mount Everest being the highest. The range stretches across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Pakistan in Southeast Asia and is about 1500 miles long. Outside of Asia, the highest mountain is Aconcagua located in the Andes mountain range in Argentina, South America and boasting a height of 6,961m.
The highest mountains on each continent of the world are:
These are also known as the Seven Summits and climbing to the summit of all seven is regarded as an extreme mountaineering challenge. One which was first achieved by Richard Bass in 1985.
Mount Everest is located on the crest of the Great Himalayas in Nepal and is the highest mountain in the world, standing tall at 8,848m above sea level. The peak of Everest is a sacred place and requires all mountaineers to ask for permission before attempting to climb the summit. This is in the form of a ceremony called the puja ceremony, which takes place at Everest Base Camp. To reach the summit of Everest takes on average 60 days and is the most expensive mountain to climb with costs between £25,000 and £70,000 depending on the level of support required.
K2 is the second tallest mountain in the world at 8,611m above sea level and is in Asia on the China-Pakistan border. It has been regarded as the world’s most dangerous mountain, due to its highest ratio of deaths to climbs where one in every four climbers has died attempting to climb it. K2 is notorious for its extreme weather conditions, which makes it exceptionally difficult to climb. It is more favourable to climb during spring and autumn. This devilish peak is also known as ‘Savage Mountain’ and those who dare to climb it may come with a death wish.
Reaching a peak of 5895m, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It is a dormant volcano that had its last major eruption 360,000 years ago. It remains one of the most popular mountains to climb due to it requiring no technical skills or equipment, such as rope, harness, axe ice or crampons and attracts approximately 30,000 hikers every year. It is a hiking peak rather than a mountaineering peak. The climb to the summit is failed by around 50% of people; this is mainly due to altitude sickness.
At 6190m, Denali is the highest mountain in North America. The mountain is located in the Alaska Range and is part of the Denali National Park Preserve. The park covers approximately six million acres, of which the mountain covers about one third and is bursting with wildlife including bears, moose, caribou, and wolves, among others. Mount Denali was previously unofficially named Mount McKinley, after the President William McKinley, but President Obama announced a change of name in 2015 back to Denali after the Alaskan government had been trying for years to get it changed. Denali is an Alaskan word that means ‘the tall one’.
With a summit elevation of 6,962m, Aconcagua in the Andes in South America is the highest mountain in the Americas. Approximately 3,500 climbers scale Aconcagua every year. It is debatably the highest non-technical mountain in the world due to the northern route not necessarily requiring mountaineering equipment such as ropes, axes, and pins. The youngest person ever to reach the summit was just nine years old and the oldest was 87 years old.
Europe is home to some of the most spectacular mountain ranges, covering some of the world’s best ski resorts. Mont Blanc being the highest in mountain in the Alps, followed by the Monte Rosa. The less familiar Mount Elbrus in Russia is 5642m above sea level has been labelled the highest mountain in Europe, although technically it is an inactive volcano. There is a ski resort on Mount Elbrus of the same name offering a comparatively small 23km of slopes.
The literal translation of Mont Blanc’s is ‘white mountain’ and it is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe at 4,808m above sea level. Mont Blanc comprises the Aosta Valley in Italy and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in France with the nearest ski resorts being Les Houches, Saint Gervais, Les Contamines and Chamonix.
Monte Rose is located between the Piedmont region of Italy and the Canton of Vallais in Switzerland. Explore 175km of slopes on the Monte Rosa, with resorts including Gressoney, Champoluc and hidden gem, Antagnod. The Monte Rosa Massif is the second highest mountain range in Europe and boasts breath-taking views across the Alps and surrounding villages.
The magnificent Matterhorn lies between Zermatt and Cervinia. The summit stands at a staggering 4478 metres. The Matterhorn is famed for its distinct pyramid shape with pointed peak that remains etched in one’s mind. The resorts of Zermatt and Cervinia lie on the Matterhorn. In the town of Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn there is an igloo village named Iglu-Dorf where you can book a stay overnight or stop by for a scrumptious Swiss fondue or delicious drink. Take the Gornergrat Bahn train for a tour of the mountain with some of the most awe-inspiring views.
The lesser-known Weisshorn is a higher peak than the Matterhorn, reaching a summit of 4505m. It is the highest mountain in the Arosa region and can be accessed by cable car. For the best view of the Weisshorn, take the Sunnega funicular and marvel at the symmetrical beauty of its perfect peak and views of over 400 mountain peaks in Switzerland and bordering countries. The Weisshorn is also popular for paragliders due to its favourable wind conditions. The nearest ski resorts are Zermatt and Zinal.
Jungfrau mountain is nestled in the heart of the Bernese Alps, overlooking the Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Plateau. Europe’s highest train station, the Jungfraujoch connects the Jungfrau and the Mönch. The Jungfrau ski region encompasses Murren and Wengen.
The renowned Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world at 8,848m above sea level. It is located in Nepal, India in The Himalayas mountain range. Each year thousands of eager mountaineers flock to this prominent peak to tackle the death-defying climb. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted or ill-prepared. A huge amount of training goes into it and it isn’t cheap costing up to £70,000 to have the honour to climb Everest.
Located on the China-Pakistan border and reaching an elevation of 8,611m, the death-defying K2 is the second highest mountain in the world. It is infamous for having the highest ratio of deaths to climbs at roughly one death for every five successful ascents. It was named K2 because it was the second peak measured in the Karakoram Range.
In the Scottish Highlands in the Lochaber area, Ben Nevis wears the crown for the highest mountain in the UK at 1,345m. Ben Nevis is actually called Beinn Nibheis in Gaelic and attracts over 100,000 walkers every year. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views from the peak of Ben Nevis that stretch across the Inner Seas to Knocklayd mountain in Northern Ireland.
In the heart of the picturesque Lake District lies the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike. It stands at 978m high and is one of the mountains included in The Three Peak Challenge, along with Ben Nevis and Snowdon. The tough climb to the peak is worth it for the stunning views over Wastwater and the Langdale Pikes.
At an elevation of 1,085m, Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales situated in Snowdonia National Park. If you don’t fancy the climb, take the scenic Snowdon Railway to the top – be sure to check the weather first so you don’t end up surrounded by clouds. For the nature-lovers, discover the famous Snowdon Lily, one of the most endangered plant in the UK.
Not only is Ben Nevis the highest mountain in Scotland, but it is also the highest mountain in the UK. The summit of Ben Nevis is the dome of an ancient volcano that collapsed over 350 million years ago. Just two miles from Ben Nevis is the Nevis Range ski resort on the mountain of Aonach Mor, so why not incorporate some skiing in with your visit to the highest mountain in Scotland?
The highest mountain in Africa is Mount Kilmanjaro – with its peak sitting at 5,895 meters its roughly 700 meters higher than Mount Kenya which is the second highest mountain in Africa. A popular climbing destination it was first officially scaled in 1899.
The highest mountain in Europe is Mont Blanc. French for white mountain it has a top height of 4,808m and sits on the French/Italian border. Mont Blanc is popular in both summer as a hiking destination and winter as a ski destination.
Mont Blanc, or as it is known in Italy Monte Bianco, is the highest mountain in Italy. Mont Blanc and Monte Bianco both mean the same “White Mountain”. France claims that both peaks are in France only however Italy disputes the claim – this has been debated since the French revolution.
Monta Rosa is the highest peak in Switzerland sitting at 4634 meters – second in Europe only to Mont Blanc. Right on the Swiss/Italian border there are some great ski resorts close by – the Monterosa Ski area in Italy has a great variety of terrain meaning there’s something for everyone.