McKinley is the northernmost major peak in the world, covered by the largest
expanse of snow and ice on any mountain. Temperatures on McKinley, which can
fall to minus 150° with wind chill, are among the coldest anywhere on
Location: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Elevation: 20,320 feet
First ascent: Walter Harper, Henry Karstens, Hudson Stuck & Robert Tatum,
About the name: Named after American President William McKinley. Most
mountaineers and Alaskans call this mountain Denali, which in the local
Athabascan language means "The High One." Discussion remains of officially
renaming the peak Denali.
The second highest of the Seven Summits, Aconcagua is sometimes called a
mountaineering "bargain" because of its disproportionate ratio of elevation to
effort. Climbers have tackled it on skis, mountain bikes, even motorcycles.
However, this mountain should be no means be taken for granted. An average expedition takes 18 days, and many people have died from freezing, altitude sickness, and other causes while attempting to scale it.
Location: Cordillera Andes, Argentina
Elevation: 22,835 feet
First ascent: Matthew Zurbriggen, Swiss guide on an English expedition, 1897
About the name: Aconcagua comes from the traditional Incan name, Ackon Cahuak,
meaning "White Sentinel."
The twin-peaked Elbrus (or "Gora Elbrus," using the Russian word for mountain)
offers climbers a formidable challenge. Moist air rising off the nearby Black
Sea produces impenetrable blizzards and frigid temperatures, feeding the
mountain's maze of 22 glaciers and fortifying its 56-square-mile ice cap, which
is hundreds of feet deep in some areas.
Location: Caucasus Mountains, Georgia
Elevation: 18,481 feet
First ascent: Killar Khasirov, Circassian tribe, 1829 (unconfirmed); Douglas W.
Freshfield, Adolphus W. Moore & C.C. Tucker, England, with French guide
Françoise Devouassoud, 1868 (confirmed)
About the name: Also called Elborus locally, the derivation of this mountain's
name is not known.
Kilimanjaro is topped by three dormant volcanic summits, Kibo (19,340 feet),
Mawenzi, (16,896 feet), and Shira (13,140 feet). Its fabled glaciers, some of the very few on the African continent, are rapidly disappearing.
Location: Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania
Elevation: 19,340 feet
First ascent: Hans Meyer, Germany & Luwig Portscheller, Austria, 1889
About the name: The derivation of "Kilimanjaro" is unknown, but it might come
from two Swahili words, "Kilima" and "Njaro," which together mean to "Shining
The tallest mountain in the world, Everest looms large over the Nepal/Tibet
border in the Mahalangur Himal, a segment of the 1,500-mile-long Himalayan
mountain range. The Himalayas are home to four of the world's fourteen peaks
over 26,000 feet tall.
Location: Mahalangur Himal, Nepal/Tibet
Elevation: 29,028 feet
First ascent: Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand & Tenzig Norgay, Nepal,
About the name: Named after Sir George Everest, British Surveyor General in
India, mid-19th century. Everest is known by Tibetans as Chomolungma, "Goddess
Mother of Earth" and by Nepalese as Sagarmatha, "Goddess of the Sky."
This limestone peak, perennially shrouded in mist, made slick by rain, and
pelted with hail, rises out of an area of thick jungles and mangrove swamps in
Irian Jaya, the western half of the island of New Guinea. Australasia, which
geographers consider the true Down Under continent, also includes Australia,
New Zealand, and the island nations of the South Pacific.
Location: Snow Mountains, Irian Jaya
Elevation: 16,020 feet
First ascent: Heinrich Harrer, Austria; Bert Huizinga, The Netherlands; Russel
Kippax, Australia & Philip Temple, New Zealand, 1962
About the name: Puncak Jaya means "Victory Peak" in Indonesian. The mountain is
also known as Carstensz Pyramid, named for Dutch explorer Jan Carstensz, who
was the first European to sight the mountain in the 17th century, and for its
Vinson dominates a landscape of stark purity, where nothing other than ice,
snow, and barren rock stretch as far as the eye can see. Antarctica, with
Vinson at its ceiling, is the coldest and driest desert on Earth, receiving
less than two inches of precipitation per year. Most of the snow on the
mountain arrived there on the wind, blown from other parts of the continent.
Location: Sentinel Range, Ellsworth Mountains
Elevation: 16,067 feet
First ascent: Nicholas Clinch, J. Barry Corbet, John P. Evans, Eiichi
Fukushima, Charles Hollister, William E. Long, Brian S. Marts, Peter K.
Schoening, Samuel C. Silverstein & Richard W. Wahlstrom, U.S., 1966
About the name: Named after Carl Vinson, a U.S. Congressman from Georgia (1914
to 1965) who supported Antarctic research. A "massif" is a large mountain that
forms an independent portion of a mountain range.