Mountains have a huge attraction for many different sorts of travellers. Experienced and adventurous travellers may want to climb a mountain, while less experienced travellers can still climb many of the world's most famous mountains. And although the highest of them all, Mount Everest, may be the most famous one, a few of the better known mountains might just be several hundreds of metres high with a cable car leading to the top. Below you will find a selection of the most famous mountains on our planet.
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The Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres (Uhuru Peak), is the highest peak in Africa. It also has the distinction of being the tallest free-standing mountain (i.e., not in a mountain range) and the tallest "walkable" mountain in the world. But don't think that it is an easy walk. It will take many days and you need to be in a good physical condition to reach the top. The risk of getting altitude sickness should not be underestimated and can occur on heights of 3,000 metres or more, although usually most people will be fine up to 4,000 metres.
For those who are fine with just seeing the mountain, your best bet would be heading towards Kenya for a visit of Amboseli National Park. From this flat and dusty park you will have chances of seeing lots of wildlife and the elephants, giraffes and zebras with in the background the Kilimanjaro might just be the highlight of your trip.
Recently, snow levels at the top have been retreating much faster and it is estimated that there will be no snow at all before the year 2050.
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Like the 1,000 or so geysers on the world which are named after the Icelandic Geysir, Cape Town's Table Mountain is the grandfather of all table mountains in the world. It is located in the Table Mountain National Park and towers above the city, while Devil's Peak and Lion's Head tower above the mountain itself. The flat top is about 3 kilometres wide and offers tremendous views over the city and the ocean. There are only small differences in height on this flat, with the cable car station only 19 metres lower than the highest point. Although in 2 to 3 hours you are able to climb (walk) up to the top, the Table Mountain Cableway takes passengers up and down the mountain, ascending over 700 metres from Table Mountain Road.
Mount Vinson is the highest point of the Vinson Massif, a 21-kilometre long mountain range on the southern end of the planet: Antarctica. It is located about 1,200 kilometres from the geographical southpole, lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronne Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. The mountain was only first seen in 1958 and is named after Carl Vinson, a US Georgia Congressman actively supporting of funding for Antarctic research. It was first climbed in 1966. The climb is not very technical, but conditions far away from anyone and temperatures of -50 °C, make it a challenging climb.
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Mount Ararat is the highest mountain of Turkey and is located in the far east of the country, not far from the border of Armenia, which claims that the mountain should actually be on Armenian grounds. This dormant volcano has a snow-capped cone year-round, so you really need crampons, an axe and some climbing experience to make it to the top.
The mountain has long been subject in debates but since 1923 with the Treaty of Kars, the mountain is on Turkish grounds, much to the dislike of Armenia. Ararat has been revered by the Armenians since ancient times as their spiritual home. Today, it is the national symbol of Armenia and on clear days the views from the capital Yerevan are tremendous. An even better view is possible from the monastery Khor Virap, a little bit more south just across the border from Turkey.
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The highest mountain of all, the Mount Everest or Chomolungma in the local language, is on every climber's list to do. But this mountain is not without risks and many people die when climbing or descending (!) the mountain. About 2,500 people have reached the top and over 200 deaths have been recorded. The mountain is part of the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. For attempting a climb you need to have a permit, which iscostly, and a good source of income for Nepal.
It is internationally recognized that the mountain was first climbed and successfully descended by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, although controversy still exists about the question whether George Mallory and/or Andrew Irvine had climbed the mountain 29 years earlier! Unfortunately, neither of them survived their early expedition. More recently, questions about the commercialization have come up as more and more climbers make the climb. Even a double-amputee (Mark Inglis) and a helicopter have made it to the top during the last year, although both did so with risk. All the litter that is left behind by expeditions is a growing concern, and since a few years there are even clean up expeditions going up the mountain.
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Mount Fuji is one of the best known natural features of Japan and is conveniently located west of the capital Tokyo. Mount Fuji has an exceptionally symmetrical cone which is a recognisable symbol of this East Asian country. Over 200,000 people climb the mountain yearly and most of them climb in the 1 July - 27 August season when huts and most other facilities in and around the mountain and nearby villages are open. It is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and although it hasn't erupted for about 300 years, it is indeed a volcano. It also is surrounded by five lakes, among which are Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka and Lake Motosu. From these lakes and Lake Ashi (which is a little further away) people who do not want to climb the mountain can have excellent views of the mountain when the weather is clear. In winter, the summit is covered in snow.
The second highest mountain in the world is the K2, which is only one of the few mountains that has kept the name the Great Trigonometric Survey team gave it, after the first discovery. Normally, these letter-number combinations are replaced by a local name, but in the case of K2, there was no local name to be found. Probably because it can't be seen from any settlement or village.
The mountain is famous for its difficult ascent and terrible weather conditions. Besides that the K2 is also notorious because of the high rate of casualties among the climbers attempting to summit. The first successful summit attempt was in 1954, after that 23 years passed before some else put a foot on the top. The mountain also received worldwide publicity with the release of the films K2 in 1992, and Vertical Limit in 2000.
Mount Kailash is one of the most holy mountains in the world! This is because it is a holy mountain for Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist and Bon religions, thousands of pilgrims make the journey every year to this remote mountain at the edge of the world. The Hindus consider Mount Kailash to be the home of Lord Shiva, a principle Hindu deity, while the Bon believe it to be the origin of the world. These pilgrims come to do the kora, spiritual walk, around the mountain. It is believe that one kora around the mountain will wash away a lifetime of sins. It can take several days to complete the kora around Mount Kailash, and some pilgrims complete it multiple times.
The other amazing fact about this mountain is the number of important rivers that start from it. The Indus, Sutlej and Brahmaputra rivers find their sources from the different faces of this mountain. Many of the other rivers coming from this mountain are tributaries Mekong, Ganges and Yellow rivers. Getting to Mount Kailash is very difficult and expensive, as it requires arranging a tour from Lhasa with a Land Rover, guide and permits. The standard tour, including transportation time and a kora around the mountain, takes a minimum of 10 days. Some tours include visiting ancient ruined cities beyond Mount Kailash, but this adds about five more days.
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Mount Kinabalu is located in Kinabalu National Park in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island. It is the highest mountain in Malaysia and on the island of Borneo, as well as one of the highest in South East Asia, trailing Hkakabo Razi of Myanmar and, depending on where the boundary of South East Asia is drawn, Puncak Jaya and Puncak Trikora of New Guinea.
It has been long documented that Low's peak, the summit, has an elevation of 4,101 metres. A survey in 1997 used satellite technology and corrected it to be about six metres lower at 4,095 metres. Mount Kinabalu, known to be a highly accessible mountain, requires no mountaineering equipment or specialised skill to summit. Nevertheless, sufficient stamina is important for a successful ascent. The hike can be quite intense for many as the air gets thinner all the way up.
Nicknamed "Killer Mountain", the Nanga Parbat, is one of the 14 mountains with a peak above 8,000 metres. What stands out is the way the peak rises above the surrounding landscape. This also explains the name, which translate to the Naked Mountain. To the south the view of the mountain is dominated by the Rupal face, with its wall of rock and ice, which measures a height of 4,608 metres from the base, to the top. To the west lies the Diamir face.
The number of people who lost there lives on this mountain is very high. Just like Mount Everest, the Nanga Parbat was not climbed until 1953, when Austrian climber Hermann Buhl reached the top. The second ascent of Nanga Parbat was via the Diamir Face, in 1962, by Germans Toni Kinshofer, Siegfried Löw, and Anderl Mannhardt. In decent Siegfried Löw, lost his life after a fall, while the two others, suffered from severe frostbite. The Diamir face route is now seen as the easiest route to the summit. In 1970 the brothers Günther and Reinhold Messner reached the summit taking the difficult route up the Rupal Face. This was only the third ascent of the mountain. The succesful ascent was overshadowed by the death of Günther Messner on the decent. This tragic story, was made into a film called Nanga Parbat which was released in 2010.
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Located in Eastern China, Mount Tai (泰山, Tàishān), is one of the most famous mountains in China. It is considered the most famous of the Five Sacred Chinese Mountains. The mountain has had human settlement around it since the Neolithic period and has been the sight of several warring periods. About 3,000 years ago active religious worship began at the mountain and continues to this day, with several active temples still located precariously on the slops. As a legacy there are 22 temples, 97 ruins, 819 stone tablets and 1,018 clidd-side and stone inscriptions scattered across the mountain
Mount Tai is a tilted fault-block mountain, which means it is a series of high peaks, that increase in elevation from north to south. The highest peaks are Jade Emperor Peak, Heaven Candle Peak, Fan Cliff and the Rear Rock Basin. 80% of the area is covered in vegetation an many of the trees were planted by the Emperor Wu Di about 1,300 years ago. In 1987 the mountain was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the Mount Tai has over 6 million visitors a year.
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Soufriere Hills is an active volcano on the island of Montserrat, located in the central Caribbean. Soufriere means sulphur in French and many volcanoes on other islands in the region (e.g. Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia) have names like this as well. The volcano on Montserrat is the most active one during recent years and probably the most famous as well.
In 1995, the volcano became active again after a long period of dormancy. It has since been active up until now although the main eruptions and resulting pyroclastic flows occurred during the second-half of the 1990s. The southern part of the island was abandoned during this period, including the former capital Plymouth. From then it was a relatively period of rest until 2008, when a devastating eruption again took place with pyroclastic flows towards the former capital and surroundings. Again, people were evacuated and the small part in between the safe zone and exclusion zone, that used to be open during the day, again was closed and became part of the exclusion zone. Apart from researchers and several other authorised people, no one is allowed to enter this exclusion zone.
There are excellent viewpoints of the volcano and its surroundings, on both the western and eastern part of the island. On the east side, one can see the former airport, while from the west the former capital, an extraordinary and breathtaking view and experience. One of the best views of the volcano itself though is at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, in the west of the island.
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The Arenal Volcano is one of the best known volcanoes throughout the Central American region and is located in the northwest of Costa Rica. Together with Lake Arenal, they form part of the Arenal Volcano National Park and is popular with landscape and nature enthusiasts. The viewing of the lava flow at night is one of the most fantastic activities here.
The volcano was dormant until 1968 when a first eruption killed 87 people and destroyed much of the crops and livestock. Up until now it has been active almost continuously but it is a relatively safe area to go, as long as you don't go beyond the safety perimeter. The last major eruption was in 2000, although it has been active continuously since 1984. You have to be a little lucky to see the volcano in full glory as mostly there are clouds around the top. The park itself has more to offer though, including hiking through the rainforests and meeting the local wildlife up-close and personal.
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Ben Nevis, the best-known and highest mountain in the British Isles, can be found in Scotland, near Fort William, at the western end of the Grampian Mountains. For mountaineers the most challenging part of the mountain is the northern side, with its 700-metre-high cliffs. Most of the 100,000 people climbing Ben Nevis every year take a more careful approach and use the Pony Track.
There are three starting points for the ascent over the 1883 Pony Track, also known as the Tourist Route. You can start from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, Achintee Farm, and from the parking lot at Glen Nevis visitors centre. The total distance to the top is 13 kilometres. For an average tourist, the summit can be reached within five hours, and getting back down takes another 2.5 hours. Bear in mind that the conditions on the mountain can be bad on any day of the year. Be prepared for rain, strong winds, mist and snow - even on summer days.
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The Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, and sometimes mistakenly named as the highest mountain in Europe (which is Mount Elbrus, see below). It is the highest mountain of the Mont Blanc massif. If you are in good shape, and have experience in mountaineering you can climb under the supervision of a guide to the top of the mountain. From Chamonix it's a two day tour that starts at the highest point the cable car can reach. For most people a visit to the panorama point at the highest station of the cable car does just fine.
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The Mont Ventoux is a legendary mountain for cyclists, but it is much more than that. It is one of the most recognisable mountains in the world. The top of the Ventoux is often compared with the landscape of the moon, as no trees or other vegetation grows on the heighest part of the mountain, and all you see is the white limestone. The limestone is exposed by the mistral winds blowing with high speeds over this part of France. On the Ventoux wind speeds are measured up to 250 km/h. In one of the first-known descriptions a monk in the middle ages decribes the walk to the top of the mountain, as the road to hell. What makes the mountain legendary for cyclists are the battles that were fought here during the Tour de France. The most famous victim of these battles is the Britsch cyclist Tom Simpson who died during the climb of the mountain in the Tour of 1967. The Mont Ventoux is a beloved trip for many cycling enthusiasts. If you want to cycle up this mountain make sure you are in good shape, as it is one of the hardest and longest (21 kilometres) to climb by bike.
Mount Elbrus is officially the highest mountain in Europe at 5,642 metres above sea level. It is located in the western Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, just north of the border with Georgia. The first ascent was in 1874, but the lower summit's (just 21 metres lower) first ascent was much earlier, in 1829. It's relatively easy nowadays to climb this mountain and thanks to a cable car it is now possible to start walking to the top just after midnight and return the next day before 3:00pm when the cable car has its last ride.
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Mount Etna is the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, and also one of the most active in the world. It is situated on the eastern part of the island of Sicily, near the city of Catania. The mountain, also called a stratovolcano, is almost always in a state of eruption the last couple of years, most lately on the 30th of July 2011.
The best way to get onto the mountain is from the south, via a road that leads up to the mountain. At an altitude of 1,900 metres, there is a parking lot. There used to be a cable-car going up the mountain, but this was destroyed and hasn't yet been rebuilt. From the parking lot most trails lead to the Valley of Oxes (Valle del Bove). The first of the four active craters is not that far away. There are buses going up the mountain until the parking lot, and there are a couple of tour agencies in Taormina offering tours to the mountain.
Mytikas is the highest peak in the Mount Olympus mountain range in Greece. Measured in terms of prominence it is one of the highest peaks in Europe. In Greek mythology Mytikas was seen as the throne of Zeus, the highest of all the Gods. The Olympus was the home of the Olympians, the principal gods of the Greek pantheon. The mountain can be climbed pretty easy, apart from the last piece to the top of Mytikas, which is full of rock scramble. Around 10,000 people climb the mountain each year, although most of them, only climb until the Skala summit, which doesn’t involve the 30 minute climb over the rock scramble.
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The Jungfrau is located in Berner Oberland, central Switzerland, and is one of the best known mountains in the country, along with the Matterhorn. It is the highest mountain of the massif which has the same name, the other mountains in the vicinity are the Eiger and Mönch.
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Although it is not the highest mountain in the Alps, the Matterhorn is considered to be one of the landmarks on this mountain range. The distinct pyramid-like summit is its claim to fame. It is part of the Pennine Alps and it overlooks the towns of Zermatt (in Switzerland) and Cervinia (in Italy). However, it is the image from the north side that is most well-known to the world.
The Matterhorn is one of the hardest mountains to climb in the Alps because of its steep ascent and the weather conditions. In the last 150 years, over 500 climbers have lost their lives on this mountain. For tourists, it is probably better to enjoy the view from the top of the Gornergrat Railway that leads up to a height of 3,089 metres, or from the top of the Klein Matterhorn cable car lift at 3,820 metres. The cable car is the highest in Europe.
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Mount Vesuvius is a volcano that earned its place in the history books in 79 AD, when an eruption covered the town of Pompeii under a layer of lava. It also caused huge destruction to the town of Hercalaneum. The stratovolcano, considered one of the most dangerous in its class, could do a lot of harm to the city of Naples. The last eruption of the mountain was in 1944. Today, the volcano and its slopes are a national park. There are a number of paths leading up the mountain, and there is even parking space at 200 metres below the summit. The rest of the climb has to be done by foot.
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Mount Sinai, sometimes called Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa, or Jabal Musa, is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The name Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Koran. According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, the biblical Mount Sinai was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Because God spoke to Moses in these places, this area is sacred those three world religions. The mountains is 2,285 metres above sea level and is near Mount Catherine, with 2,629 metres the highest mountain on the peninsula. At the top you will find a mosque, still used by Muslims, and a Greek Orthodox chapel, constructed in 1934 on the ruins of a 16th century church, that is not open to the public.
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Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America and is situated in the central part of Alaska. It's the showpiece of the Denali National Park, one of the most popular national parks in this northern state.
Although Mount Everest is the highest mountain above sea level, Mount McKinley has the highest rise from its base at about 5,500 metres up to the summit, compared to Mount Everest's rise of about 3,700 metres from its base which is already 5,200 metres above sea level. While Mount McKinley is not as high as the ones in the Himalaya or even Andes Mountains, it's a very tough climb. Only about half of the expeditions made it to the top and over 100 lives have been taken by it. It is a technical climb but the main drawbacks are the cold weather at the top and the lack of oxygen - so much lower compared to a mountain of similar height at the equator (almost 50% less!). Both the temperatures and lack of oxygen are a direct result of its latitude.
For non-climbers, the view of the mountain when there is clear weather in Denali National Park is fantastic already, especially in late winter and early spring when most of the mountain is still covered in snow and conditions are good with blue skies and less rain (or snow).
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Mount Rainier is an active and massive stratovolcano in the state of Washington, 87 kilometres southeast of Seattle. It is the highest peak of the Cascade Range with 4,392 metres. Mount Rainier and the surrounding area were declared a national park which is known under the name: the Mount Rainier National Park. With 26 major glaciers Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the USA, if you would exclude Alaska. In the past large scaled mudflows caused devastation in the area of the volcano. The last major eruption was in 1894. A trip to the top of the mountain can only be made by people that have experience is climbing on glaciers and snowfields. The ascent takes two to three days. On clear days the mountain can be seen from as far as Portland and Seattle. Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the so-called Decade Volcano list, which refers to the 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. . Because of its large amount of glacial ice, Mount Rainier could potentially produce massive lahars that would threaten the whole Puyallup River valley.
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Mount Rushmore is the iconic monument to US political history that is carved into the side of a solid granite mountain. It consists of the faces of four famous US presidents. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. In fact the statue is a compromise as the original design also included the upper bodies of the presidents. The design is by Gutzon Borglum, who also was the supervisor on the project, but it was his son Lincoln Borglum, who finished the project in 1941, which is also the year in which his father died. There is a visitor center, named after Lincoln Borglum near the mountain, where more information about the construction of the monument can be found. In the evening Mount Rushmore is illuminated for two hours after sunset.
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Mount St. Helens is best known for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, which caused 57 deaths and many homes, roads, bridges and railroads were destroyed. This volcanic event also caused the summit to shrink by no less than 400 metres. After that eruption, the summit has been replaced by a 1,500-metre-wide volcanic crater. The mountain is located between the cities of Seattle and Portland.
Mount St. Helens is located on the Cascade Range (of which Mount Rainier at 4,392 metres is the highest), which is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire - the most volcanic active part of the world. The volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows. The last major eruptions were in 2004 and 2008.
Mount Thor might be very unknown to regular travellers, it is a very popular mountain among experienced climbers. The main feature and the claim for being famous is the fact that is has the greatest purely vertical drop at 1,250 metres. The average angle of the drop is 105 degrees. Thor Mountain is located in the Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island, Canada. It's part of the Baffin Mountains, which is again part of the Arctic Cordillera.
Pangnirtung is the nearest settlement, 46 kilometres away and with about 1,300 inhabitants. It can be reached by plane from Iqaluit, the capital and largest town on Baffin Island, reached in turn from other Canadian cities like Montreal and Ottawa.
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Popocatépetl is an active volcano located in the heart of Mexico, about 70 kilometres southeast of the capital Mexico City. The mountain has been climbed since a long time ago. The Tecuanipas tribe is said to have climbed it in 1289, followed by the Spanish in the 16th century. Literally meaning the 'smoking mountain', it is the second highest peak in the country and on one of those rare clear days it can be seen from the higher parts of Mexico City. Popocatépetl is one of the only three mountains in Mexico that has glaciers near the summit.
Popocatépetl has had over 20 eruptions in modern history, with the eruptions of 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2005 (still continuing as at 2012)  being the most recent ones. In the 1996 eruption, tens of thousands of people were evacuated by the government based on the warnings of scientists. The volcano then experienced its worst eruption in thousands of years.
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Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is one of the landmarks of Australia, and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is visited by around 400,000 visitors every year. The mountain and the surrounding area, including the rock formations Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) have been declared as the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Admission to the national park is AUD$25 for adults, while those aged 16 and below can enter for free.
Uluru has a huge spiritual meaning for the indigenous Anunga people. They do not climb the mountain, and ask visitors to do the same. Despite this request many people climb the mountain, and not without dangers. Due to the location in the desert, conditions are extreme, and you need to be in good condition to reach the top. A nearby visitors/cultural centre can give you more information about the mountain.
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Mount Cook, or Aoraki (cloud piercer), was first climbed in 1894 by New Zealand climbers George Graham, Tom Fyffe and Jack Clarke. It is part of the Southern Alps of New Zealand and is the highest mountain in New Zealand. The mountain is situated between the Westland and Mount Cook national parks (together forming a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the south of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. The Tasman Glacier and Hooker Glacier flow down the southern and eastern slopes of the mountain. Mount Cook Village has a visitor centre which provides detailed information on the area and there are numerous walks of varying difficulty starting from here. You can either choose to walk or climb the mountain but in the latter case, be prepared and better: take a guide.
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Mount Ngauruhoe would not have made this list had it not been for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which the active volcano became famous as Mount Doom, the fictional name in the movie. Mount Ngauruhoe is situated between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ruapehu on North Island, New Zealand, together forming the Tongariro National Park. Many people hike up it on the Tongariro Crossing, which is considered one of the ten best walks in the world. The first ascent of the volcano was made in 1839 by John C. Bidwill.
Along with Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngaurohoe is part of a line of volcanoes known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, stretching across the Pacific Ocean. Although the volcano erupts on average every 9 years, the last major eruption was in 1977.
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Mount Taranaki is the second highest mountain on the North Island of New Zealand. It's an active volcano, but not as active as others in the country and therefore is also called a quiescent. The last major eruption was around 1655 and a moderate one exactly 100 years later. Again about 100 years later, a piece of the top of the mountain came down in the 1850's or 1860's. A second volcano crater has been forming at the southern flank of the mountain. Whilst from the other side it looks like an almost perfect symmetrical mountain. Due to the similarity to Mount Fuji, it was used as a backdrop in the film the Last Samurai. Since 1881 the mountain and the surrounding forest are a national park.
You don't need to be an experienced climber to reach the summit in summer, but prepare the trip well and be prepared for the changing weather conditions of the mountain. The climb from the Stratfort Plateau and return are about 9-10 hours of walking and climbing.
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Mauna Kea is by some measures the tallest mountain in the world. It is located in the state of Hawaii on the Big Island. When measured from the base of the mountain on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, it rises 10,203 metres to its peak, taller than Mount Everest if using the same measurement. The peak rises over 4,200 metres above sea level, making it the highest mountain on the Hawaiian archipelago. It is a dormant volcano, with its last eruption dating back to 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.
In the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea means "white mountain", so named because its summit is regularly covered with snow in winter. The mountain's summit is one of the best astronomical sites in the world and several leading observatories can be found there as a result.
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The Aconcagua is the highest mountain of the Andes, and the highest mountain outside of Asia, making it the highest peak on the Western and Southern Hemisphere. There is some debate whether the ancient Inca's have climbed the mountain or not. Remains of a guanaco were found on a ridge between the south and north summit, and it seems unlikely that the animal got up the mountain that far on it's own. It is however proven that the Inca's climbed other mountains in the same region. The first modern successful climb of the mountain was done in 1897 by the Swiss Matthias Zurbriggen. For climbers the altitude of the mountain is the biggest opponent as the climb itself is not as technical as those on other mountains.
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The Cotopaxi volcano in the Andes mountains is located just about 30 kilometres from Quito and on a clear day you can see the mountain from the capital. It is part of the chain of volcanoes around the Pacific plate known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is the second highest mountain of Ecuador at 5,897 metres above sea level, and although it claims to be the tallest active volcano in the world, actually Llullaillaco volcano, on the border of Chile and Argentina is considerably taller at over 6,700 metres and is considered active as well. Nevertheless, the Cotopaxi is much more famous and active with over 50 eruptions during the last 370 years or so, although the last one was in 1940. Cotopaxi has an almost symmetrical cone and also has one of few equatorial glaciers in the world, at about 5,000 metres and up.
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Monte Fitz Roy (Cerro Fitz Roy) lies on the border of Chile and Argentina, near the town of El Calafate. Francisco Moreno named the mountain in his book Viaje a la Patagonia Austral in honour of Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle, who sailed up the Santa Cruz River in 1834 and surveyed large parts of the Patagonian coast. The mountain is also sometimes known as Cerro Chaltén, which means smoking mountain, because of the clouds that often form around the peak.
The first recorded climb was achived by French duo Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone. Despite the average height of the mountain, it is listed as one of the most technical climbs in the world because of the almost vertical granite faces. There are years that not a single successful ascent was recorded due to the extremely difficult climb.
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