Every year thousands of adventurers set out to the Himalayas to climb Mount Everest, known to many as the roof of the world. It was given its name by Andrew Waugh in 1865 in honor of Sir George Everest, as a kind of compromise after not being able to choose between the multiple local names that the native tribes had for the peak. One of these, in Tibetan, is Chomolungma, meaning „The Mother of Mountains “, and it does offer a very appropriate description for one of the most magnificent and daunting places on Earth. Sitting at 8848 meters above sea level, it is widely considered to be the highest point on our planet. And it is, if height was only measured as altitude.
However, that is not the sole factor to consider. Our planet is not flat, nor is it a perfect sphere. It rotates constantly around its axis and the massive centrifugal force which this generates, forms a small bulge around the equator. This means that the poles are situated slightly closer to the center of the Earth, a difference less than 21 kilometers. Compared to the size of the planet, this is so miniscule that it is almost negligible. But considering the highest point on the planet, it makes all the difference. Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador sits almost directly over the imaginary line, passing in the middle between the poles and this gives it a tremendous advantage. It may be only 6,268 meters above the sea, but the distance from its peak to the center of the Earth’s core is a staggering 6384 kilometers. This is roughly 3.2 kilometers more than Everest and is the closest point to outer space on the Earth’s surface.
What is even more peculiar, if we discard altitude and absolute position and only compare the size of mountains from top to bottom, then neither of these is the actual tallest mountain in the world. This title goes to Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. On the surface it doesn’t look like much, as most of it is underwater, but measured from its base to its peak it is a colossal 10.2 kilometers tall.
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