Mount Everest is NOT the Tallest Mountain in the World.

Kishore Kumar Behera/

While Everest has been famous for years as the tallest mountain in the world it appears a new challenger has taken the top spot. Of course, it is not a new mountain, that would be pretty impossible. It is a new way of measuring. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world when you measure from sea level, however, if you mention from the center of the Earth then there is a new champion, Chimborazo!

Chimborazo is a stratovolcano in Ecuador that is part of the Andes mountain range. It is measured at 6,248 meters above sea level, smaller than Everest measuring at 8,828 meters above sea level. So it is smaller and by a long way. However, the Earth is not a perfect circle. The Earth bulges out at the equator and is flatter at the poles. This means that mountains closer to the equator are further from the center of the Earth. While Everest is a great distance from the equator at 28 degrees North, Chimborazo is very close, only 1.5 degrees south of the equator.

When using this measurement the top of Everest is 6,382 kilometers from the center of Earth while the top of Chimborazo is 6,384 kilometers away. Chimborazo wins it by a nose (a nose that is 2km long)!

If this is the case then why does Everest get all the fame, the movies, and the thousands of people climbing it every year? It comes down to difficulty. Let’s face it when you climb a mountain you do not start at the center of the Earth, you start at sea level. Climbers and mountaineers care about what happens above the Earth, they have no control over anything else. That makes Everest still the greatest summit in the world.

To climb Everest is a mammoth task. To reach the base camp alone takes ten days. You must then acclimatize for a long period of time and wait for suitable conditions before tackling the summit (usually a 9-day trek). Overall this can take 3 months to achieve and a lot of money. While Chimborazo is a short climb only taking two days after acclimatizing. 

In many ways, Everest does still have the crown as the greatest feat of man. When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed it all those years ago they put a marker down to the rest of humanity to conquer this world. Still, it is useful to know about Chimborazo for that next quiz you attend.