The climbing of Mount Everest is on many people’s bucket lists. This despite – or perhaps because of – the dangers involved with doing so. The aspiration to be on the so-called highest point on earth – 29,029 feet above sea level – is what generally drives people to plan for this excursion and pushes them through the difficult final stages of the journey.
However, Mount Everest is not the place on Earth that’s furthest from its center.
First, some background. The planet is wider at the equator than it is at the poles. The rotation of Earth, the centrifugal force, is what causes its radius as measured at the equator to be 3,963 miles but just 3,949 miles at the poles. In fact, thanks to the melting of the ice sheets and that water moving towards the equator, this difference is becoming even more pronounced. The bulge is increasing at a rate of 0.028 inches per year.
The result of this is that the place that is furthest from the planet’s center is actually Chimborazo, a volcano in Ecuador, a country that the equator cuts through. Although its elevation is considerably less than Mount Everest’s at 20,561 feet above sea level, it is 3,967 miles from Earth’s center versus Mount Everest’s 3,966.
Fortunately, attempting to get as close to space as possible without leaving the earth’s surface is simpler than many had realized. That’s because Chimborazo is a bit more accessible than Mount Everest. With that said, reaching the top of Chimborazo is not something that should be taken lightly, and the moving glaciers provide a challenge as well. But, at the same time, it’s not even in the same ballpark as Mount Everest.
The costs associated with a Chimborazo climb are also a fraction of the costs of a Mount Everest climb.