The world’s tallest mountain isn’t really the tallest in the world if measured from it’s base.

What If you were asked, what’s the tallest mountain in the world? You’ll certainly answer, Mountain Everest. It’s definitely tall indeed, standing at a height of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) — that’s nearly 11 Burj Khalifas. But that’s not the real case. Mountain Everest could be stripped of it’s golden medal of being the world’s tallest mountain. It will solely depend on how you measure a mountain’s height. Grab your hiking gear, we’re going on a hike at Mountain Everest.

 

Related media: Why is Mount Everest so tall?

 

Let’s Measure A Mountain

Just kidding folks, we aren’t going hiking, but if you’d ever be going on a hike on Mountain Everest someday, then, geologically, you’ll not be climbing the tallest mountain in the world. According to geological survey, a mountain is measured from the sea level upwards to it’s peak, but if a mountain is measured from it’s base upwards to it’s peak, then, there would be some difference between the heights of mountains looking at the topography of our planet.

Geologically, convention has it that, a mountain’s ‘height’ is determined by how tall it rises above the sea level. This gets things complicated. First and foremost, sea levels around the world vary — by up to 100 meters — due to sea currents caused by tidal effects. Its quite higher on the western coast than on the eastern coast. Geologists usually deal with the discrepancies of the variations in sea levels by gauging where a mountain would stand on sea level instead of land. Then, they measure the mountain’s height from that gauged level to the peak of the mountain.

This gives the mountain a little bit of a “down-kick upwards.” There are arguments against Everest gaining this advantage of being the tallest mountain in the world. Everest stands on the Himalayas plateau that’s roughly 5,029 meters (16,500 feet) high above sea level. That’s really a big down-kick boost. Its like a person gaining height while wearing high heels. Upon measuring Everest from the plateau — it’s actual base — to the peak, then, Everest would be stripped of it’s “golden medal” of being the world’s tallest mountain.

(That sounds familiar with Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of all his yellow jerseys after failing a doping test).

 

I’m Taller Than You Are

Now, if that be the case, then, Everest would be dwarfed by Alaskan own Mountain Denali (formally called Mountain McKinley) which stands at a height of roughly 6,200 meters (20,300 feet) tall; and its not just only Denali. The convention for measuring mountains from the sea level upwards to it’s peak also gives any mountain partially submerged underwater a disadvantage, too.

For instance, Hawaii’s mountain and volcanic beast, Mauna Kea, if measured from it’s base submerged under the ocean to it’s peak, stands at a height of roughly 10,150 meters (33,300 feet) tall. That’s almost a couple of kilometers (a mile) taller than Everest. Hmm! It seems Everest is going to lose it’s gold medal, after all. Things are not going well for the Everest fans out there. Sorry guys!

This measuring strategy that we just employed also puts Mountain Chimborazo of Ecuador at an advantage, too. It rises just over 6,250 meters (20,500 feet) above sea level. Either way, this mountain has a superlative of it’s own: Of all the mountains in the world, it’s the one whose peak is the farthest from the center of the Earth.

 

I’m Still The World’s Tallest

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Image: Cuenca High Life | Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

You might be arguing that, Mountain Chimborazo also got a down-kick boost of it’s own. Obviously, we know for sure that the Earth is an oblate spheroid— it’s slightly flattened at the poles than at the equator. You thought of this, right? Mountain Chimborazo is quite close to the equator, and no wonder it has a massive geological advantage to it’s height. So as with Mountain Everest.

Thinking about this, then we can safely conclude that there is no fair means of measuring mountains on a planet that presents geological discrepancies in respect to it’s topography. The Everest fans out there can still cheer up. As at the moment, Mountain Everest is still the world’s tallest mountain.

 

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Dec 29, 2018.

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