Mountains are a genuine attraction to travellers, and typically the more rugged and tall they are the more appealing to the senses. But not all mountain views are created equal.
The Himalaya certainly are tall, but there are other parts of the world where the vertical relief of a mountain within the context of its location make for gobsmacking mountain scenery.
Geographers describe mountain elevations in scientific terms (things like “topographic prominence” and “ultra prominence”), but we prefer to describe how high a summit rises above its surroundings in terms of our own “wow” factor.
You know, giant drops from summit to base.
Here are ten of the most prominent that you can visit on one of our active adventures.
1. Aconcagua, Argentina
The tallest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua is nicknamed the Stone Sentinel. When you reach it, you’ll see why. It pokes up above the surrounding landscape by thousands of metres. In fact, it is so tall it is visible from the Pacific Coast 100 kilometres away! We can take you straight to the top.
2. Denali, USA
Denali hulks above other peaks of the Alaska Range like a big brother. On our Great Alaska Adventure, you’ll get several opportunities to experience a magical view of Denali. You'll also encounter the genuinely wild wildlife and explore the starkly wide expanses of the 49th state.
3. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Kilimanjaro is of course a massive chunk of the earth’s crust, and one of the prettier sights of East Africa—a mass of white dazzling in the sunshine and floating above the horizon. Early explorers thought the snows of Kilimanjaro were clouds.
We offer many different routes up “Kili”. But be prepared for the views from the base, in either Tanzania or Kenya. That's where its huge form will impress you the most.
4. Mont Blanc, France
While Mont Blanc is not tall in world terms, it’s big, and local climbing guides would suggest the well-loved mountain punches above its weight. We offer several trips to the great white mountain in the heart of Continental Europe, including a mountaineering skills course for those keen to reach the summit, or a chance to circumnavigate Mont Blanc, through France, Italy and Switzerland, with our sister company UTracks.
Mont Blanc is such a dominant piece of mountain topography that its size will "wow" you from various locations.
5. Cuernos del Paine, Chile
Wedged between the tallest peak in the park, Paine Grande, a hulking giant of a massif itself, and the famous Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) is a massif that captures everybody's attention when they visit Torres Del Paine National Park.
Technically, the Cuernos del Paine or 'Paine horns' is the collective name given to the set of spiky granite peaks, all of which stand at over 2000 metres high, found along the stunning W trek.
The spikes have fittingly sharp names: to the north, the Aleta de Tiburón (Shark's Fin), to the east, from north to south, Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mask), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn).
6. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Ay 4207m, Mauna Kea is the high point on the Big Island of Hawaii, and for many the highest on earth. Some argue that Mauna Kea is the true biggest mountain on earth as much of its bulk lies underwater.
On our active trip to Hawaii, you’ll get opportunities to see Mauna Kea as well as chances to explore both active and inactive lava flows.
7. Chimborazo, Ecuador
Hovering above the Ecuadorean rainforest like a flying saucer, Chimborazo is another contender for the biggest mountain on earth as its summit is the point farthest from the centre of the earth (because of the squashed nature of the globe).
Edward Whymper of Matterhorn fame made the first climb of this exotic jungle mountain on the earths equator in 1880.
8. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
At 4,093 metres, Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu is the third tallest island mountain on earth (after Puncak Jaya in New Guinea and Mauna Kea in Hawai’i) and the most dramatic natural feature found on the island of Borneo.
For those that choose to climb Kinabalu, you’ll go from steamy jungles to cool mountain air.
9. K2, Pakistan
K2, known as the Savage Mountain because of its toll on climbers, is a striking piece of the earth's crust when you first lay eyes on it. K2 rises so sharply from the surrounding glaciers its form can cause mountaineers to pause and reflect when they're headed up to climb it.
While we don't offer trips to climb it, trekking to K2 basecamp should be a bucket-list hike for any adventurer.
10. Fujiyama (Mt Fuji), Japan
As you would expect from the Japanese, Mount Fuji is a beautifully symmetric mountain.
Rising from sea level in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, Fuji is the seventh tallest island peak in the world and can be appreciated on many of our Japanese adventures. From just about any angle, Fuji offers and impressive chunk of mountain real estate.