Think Mt. Everest is the Tallest Place On Earth? Think Again

Everyone knows that the tallest mountain on the planet is Mount Everest in the Himilayas mountain range. However, measuring mountains against sea level only tells part of the story. Thanks to the shape of the earth, the highest point on the planet may actually be a mountain you’ve never heard of: Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.

Measuring 20,702 feet above sea level, Mount Chimborazo doesn’t seem like it can compete with the 29,029 peak of Everest. However, the Andean mountain’s location on the equator gives it a hidden advantage.

The earth is not actually perfectly round. Due to the planet’s rotation and centrifugal force, the earth bulges at the equator. This means that, measured from the center of the earth instead of sea level, equatorial Mount Chimborazo reaches about 7,000 feet farther than any mountain in the Himilayas!

If using the equatorial bulge seems like cheating, there’s another mountain that dwarfs Everest through sheer bulk. Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, the volcano that makes up much of the big island, is actually twice as tall as Everest. Measured from base to peak, Mauna Kea measures 33,000 feet. Only 13,803 feet of this height is visible above sea level, however; the volcano’s roots rest at the floor of the Pacific Ocean.