In honor of International Mountain Day, Musement takes a look at some of the world’s most majestic peaks.
What is it about mountains that we find so fascinating? These natural wonders make us feel small in the face of their enormity, they challenge adventurers to conquer them and are even a source of inspiration for artists in all of their variations.
In 2003, the United Nations established 11 December as International Mountain Day to call attention to the sustainable development of these towering natural wonders as well as to protect them from climate change. In fact, this year, the day is focused on climate, hunger, and migration – all topics that revolve around the importance of the mountains.
In honor of International Mountain Day, here’s a look at 10 of the world’s most famous peaks.
1. Mont Blanc, France/Italy
The mythical Mont Blanc is a natural gem shared by France and Italy. The highest summit in Western Europe at 15,771 feet, Mont Blanc is considered the birthplace of climbing. In fact, in 1786 Balmat and Piccard became the first climbers to successfully reach its glorious summit. The peak is accessible from Chamonix (France) and Courmayeur (Italy).
2. The Matterhorn, Switzerland/Italy
The Matterhorn, called Cervino in Italian and Mont Cervin in French, is one of the most rugged peaks in the Alps. There are more than 25 routes from which to choose in order to arrive at the summit, which is located at 14,692 feet. Although it was believed unclimbable due to its pyramidal form, four hikers made the impossible possible in 1865.
3. Mount Everest, Nepal/China
Mount Everest is, without a doubt, the queen of the mountains. It is also known as the “Goddess Mother of the Universe”. Its popularity is owed to the fact that, at an elevation of 29,029 feet, it is the tallest peak on the planet. It is located in the Himalayan mountain range that separates Nepal and China. Its summit was reached for the first time in 1953.
4. Mount Fuji, Japan
Sixty-two miles southwest of Tokyo stands Mount Fuji 12,389 feet, the tallest mountain in Japan. An emblem ofJapan and the protagonist of numerous legends and traditions, Mount Fuji is one of the most climbed mountains in the world. More than 200,000 valiant hikers climb annually to reach the summit of this volcano, which last erupted in 1707. Watching the sunrise from its summit is something that everyone should do at least once in a lifetime.
5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Formed by three inactive volcanoes, Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,327 feet tall, making it the highest mountain in Africa. The mountainside hosts a variety of exotic and endangered species such as elephants and leopards. The first ascent took place in 1889.
6. Paine Grande, Chile
The Cerro Paine Grande is the tallest mountain in the Torres del Pain National Park, which is located in the part of the Andes mountain range that touches Chilean Patagonia. Paine Grande has an elevation of 9,462 feet and forms part of the massif that shares the same name. It was climbed for the first time in 1957. Calling it a natural beauty does not do the landscape of this Andean region justice.
7. K2, China/Pakistan
The second tallest mountain in the world is the 28,251-foot K2, which flanks the border of China and Pakistan. In 1954, Italians Compagnoni and Lacedelli became the first to reach the summit. Since then, not many others have followed suit. Only a little more than 300 mountaineers have achieved this feat due to the great technical difficulties of the climb. It is said that of every five excursionists that try, four make it and one perishes.
8. Mount Fitz Roy, Argentina/Chile
Mount Fitz Roy is located in Patagonia between Argentina and Chile. It is 11,171 feet high and was named in honor of Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle voyage. It is also known, though, as Cerro Chaltén, which means “smoking mountain”, a name it acquired because the Aborigines believed that it was a volcano. What they were really seeing a, however, was a thick cloud hovering over the peak that acts as its permanent crown.
9. Table Mountain, South Africa
Table Mountain is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The mountain has a flat summit making it an icon of Cape Town. From here one can enjoy awe-inspiring views of the ocean. A cable car reaches the top of Table Mountain, which makes it one of South Africa’s most popular destinations. Yes, it might have lost some of its exclusivity, but it is still an unforgettable travel experience.
10. Alpamayo, Peru
We return to the Andes mountain range to experience the Alpamayo, also known as Shuyturaju. This iconic and stunningly formed mountain is located within the Huascarán National Park, specifically in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. It reaches 19,511 feet above sea level and was first climbed in 1857.