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The highest mountains of the world: Details about list and map

This page contains definitions of terms around the list of the highest mountains, a description of my procedure to find all peaks, and some statistical data about 6000 m peaks.

Further explanations about the table:

The completion of the 6000 m peaks
The comprehensive search for all summits above 6000 m was rather laborious, therefore I describe the procedure here:
  1. First, I used an Andoid tablet (offline) with Openandromap and searched for all elevations which were beyond the 6000 m contour and from where one has to cross at least three 20 m contours going to the highest saddle. This ensures that the gap height is at least about 40 meters. I also used this scheme for mountains above 5980 m.
  2. Then I corrected the coordinates online using Google Map or Openstreetmap(OSM Landscape) together with the Google satellite image:
    • If there is a reasonable satellite image, I choose the point which most probably resembles a summit, together with either the Google Map or Openstreetmap - depending on which of the two maps better fits the satellize image.
    • If there is no satellite image, I use the apparently more realistic map.
    • In China, Google Map only shows 100 m contours. Therefore there I used Openstreetmap as often as possible.
  3. If I could find more detailed heights or names on a printed map, I used these if they appeared plausible.
  4. Determination of summit heights based on the contours usually underestimates the actual summit height by 40 to 60 meters. The described procedure cannot ensure that I have found all of the 6000 m peaks. With very high probability the mountains beyond 6100 m summit height are complete.
For the 14086 summits which are now in my database, the whole procedure took me a little more than a year. In September 2017 finally all peaks above 6000 m were completely included.

Ranges and Groups

I use the term mountain range for a larger comlete unit which can be clearly identified, e.g. Alps, Pyrenees, Andes, Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir, Tien Shan.
Subgroups are smaller units which compose the mountain ranges, e.g. Allgäuer Alpen, Cordillera Blanca, Annapurna Himal.
The borderlines between individual ranges or subgroups are more or less defined in some regions, but in other regions the affiliation of the groups is quite unclear.
  • In the Alps, I refer to the mountain group classification according to Pause 1992 respectively Rother 1997, which can be found in Heft 39 of Wissenschaftlichen Alpenvereinshefte (DAV/ÖAV München 2004, ISBN 3-3937530-06-1)
  • Online maps like openstreetmap or Google Maps give a large number of single points, but there are no denominations for langscapes or regions. Therefore theydo not qualify for finding the names of ranges.
  • In other regions, I try to find an orographic systematics as far as possible. My basis is partially externer Linkwww.peakbagger.com and partially Wikipedia (EN or DE). To find the borders of the ranges on a local scale, I use maps in as good as possible scale. There is a good worldwide coveragy be the maps of the U.S. Army, scales 1:250 000, or the 1:1 000 000 International Map of The World (IMW), which can be viewed e.g. in the externer LinkPerry Castañeda Map Collection. However, these maps are more than 50 years old and completely unusable for details like single peaks.
  • In Pamir and Tien Shan but also other regions of Central Asia, I also use the names given on Soviet mopographic maps which can be found at scales of 1:200 000 or 1:500 000 (sometimes also down to 1:50 000).
  • For the eastern part of Tibet and the Chinese regions eastward from there, the outstanding book by Tamotsu Nakamura is the only source which appears reliable and can be read without knowledge of Chinese language: "East of the Himalaya. Alps of Tibet and Beyond Mountain Peak Maps", The Japanese Alpine Club 110th Anniversary Publication, 2016, ISBN 978-4-7795-0994-0
  • Especially in Tibet and the surrounding regions, most maps give no range names at all, and it is difficult to clarify the drainage systems of rivers or lakes. The only range names there were found on the IMW 1:1 million, but the spelling state of the art of 50 years ago and probably with lots of transfer errors. These maps were drawn based on aerial photographs without ever being able to visit the area.
  • The borders between Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush, Pamir, and Tien Shan are relatively well defined. But it cannot be said where the borders of these ranges with Kunlun or Transhimalaya are to be drawn. Generally, the definition of larger units inherently seems arbitrary in these regions. I decided to use four main units, also due to the restrictions of representation on the map:
    • Himalaya
    • Karakoram, Hindukush
    • Pamirs, Tien Shan and (east of the Pamirs) the Kunlun which I continues along all the ranges south of the Chinese desert areas fortgesetzt habe
    • Tibet (i.e. nothern and central Tibet) and Transhimalaya
    I will examine in future which main units are suited to comprise the ranges in the rest of Asia.
  • In North America, externer Linkwww.peakbagger.com gives a detailed range systematics.

Some numbers

The higher the mountains are, the smaller is their number. The 8000 m peaks are easily counted, there are a few hundred 7000 m peaks (depending on the conditions). Until now it was not clear how many 6000 m peaks can be identified. Of course it depends, which kind of protrusion is counted: The smaller the height of the mountain, the more molehills one would have to consider.
For an idea about the number of peaks, I use three possible criteria:
  • Independent mountains have a gap height of at least 500 meters in Asia.
  • Not independent mountains have a smaller gap height, but still they are more prominent than secondary summits.
  • Secondary summits have a small gap height. If the mountain itself is not very high, less gap height is needed for a discimination than for higher mountains. A model (externer Linkthehighrisepages.de) uses a logarithmic relationship between summit height and necessary gap height: Points with gap height smaller than 50/1.41^(log2(8848/h)) meters are secondary summits. This means, for a 3000 m peak 29 meters of gap height are sufficient (this is about one old rope length), for 6000 m peaks it needs 41 meters, and at 8848 meters in must be more then 50 meters.
The secondary summits can not reliably be discerned using maps with 10 m or 20 m contour interval. I believe that I have found practically everything above 6000 m which can be called "mountain", being more prominent than a secondary summit. Number of mountains in my list:
Classgap height>500gap height>100gap height>40alle
8000er14141414
7000er166317352375
6500 - 6999407110612961342
6000 - 6499121773801042810922
The distribution of 6000 m peaks to the different ranges is very unbalanced. One could have expected this, but the extent surprised me a little. Looking only at the 6000 m peaks without secondary summits, they following numbers are found in the different ranges:
Range or
region
Number
6000-6999 m
Hindukusch47
Karakorum1754
Pamir157
Tien Shan53
Kunlun2886
Transhimalaya, Zentraltibel2613
Himalaya3257
China east of the Himalayas206
North and South America118
In particular the large number in Kunlun and Transhimalaya was not clear to me before the inverstigation. On the other hand, there are hardly any alpinistic news coming from these ranges, because they are very hard to reach due to political and infrastructural obstacles.

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Last updated 01 February 2018.