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:
- "P." summits were taken as summits with given height from a map. "p." summits are taken from the contour representation of Openstreetmap/CycleMap (20 or 10 m contours).
- "7000ers/4000ers.. depending on continent" means:
- In Europe and Caucasus: 4000m in the Alps, 5000m in Caucasus
- In Asia: 6500m
- In Africa: 5000m
- In North America: Mountains above 4267 m (14000 feet)
- In South America: 6000m
- In Oceania and Antarctica: 4000m
- Secondary summits are mountains with a gap height smaller than about 30 to 50 meters, depending on height. In detail: (SH<50/1.41^(log2(8848/h), with h being the summit height and SH the gap height. (see also thehighrisepages.de)
- Independent mountains are summits with a gap height of 500 meters or morein the central Asian ranges, 100 meters elsewhere.
- * after the mountain name means that this mountain is included in the official UIAA 4000m peak of the Alps list, but it is not generally accepted as an independent 4000m peak (i.e. it is not found in the lists by Blodig or Goedeke).
- * in the column "country" means that I could not find the exact position of the mountain with respect to the boundary (e.g. because of lack of exact maps).
- The gap height is a measure of the independence of a mountain.
If you follow the ridges to a higher neighbor mountain, the gap height is the height difference which you at least have to go down. In other words, the mountain is freely standing by this height.
- As the category, I have mentioned in the table if a mountain is the highest summit of a continent (1), a mountain range (2) or a subgroup (3), or if it has no prominent position (4).
- Open: Where I have information about it, I give information about restrictions: (1)=freely accessbile, (2)=permit necessary, (3)=permit necessary, authorized agency needed (with exceptions), (4)=permit necessary, authorized agency needed, (5)=expedition.
If nothing is mentioned, I have no information - this doesn't necessarily mean that the peak wouldn't be accessible.
- Completeness of the data: For certain regions, I could include all mountains above a certain height. The table (in case of selection "all mountains") definitely includes:
Of course, I cannot take any responsibility for errors in the maps which were used to compile these data.
- all mountains above 6000 m in the world
- all 6000m peaks in Asia (about 12000 peaks!)
in addition, all 4000 m peaks in the Altai and all 3000 m peaks of Japan,
all peaks above 3000 m in Indonesia except New Guinea, 4000 m on New Guinea
- all 4000 m peaks in the U.S.A and all 3000 m peaks in Canada and Alaska; all 4000 m peaks in Mexico and all 3000ers in the rest of Central America
- all 6000 m peaks in South America and all 4500 m peaks of Ecuador, 4100 m peaks of Colombia and Venezuela; all 4000ers between 34°S and 38°S, 2500er south of 38°S
- all peaks above 3000 m in the Alps, including all 4000 m peaks as in the complete UIAA list
- all peaks above 3000 m in the Pyrenees and the Iberian Peninsula
- all 2000 m peaks in the Tatra
- all 2000 m peaks in Scandinavia
- all 3000m peaks in New Zealand, all 2000 m peaks in Australia (Tasmania: 1500 m)
- all 4000 m peaks in Antarctica
There is some dispute about which continent the Caucasus belongs to. Some see the Europe-Asia border on the Caucasus main ridge, some see the Caucasus completely in Asia.
I decided to use a separate "continent" for the mountains in the Caucasus, so everybody can be happy (or not) with any choice.
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If I could find more detailed heights or names on a printed map, I used these if they appeared plausible.
- 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.
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 www.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 Perry 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:
I will examine in future which main units are suited to comprise the ranges in the rest of Asia.
- 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
- In North America, www.peakbagger.com gives a detailed range systematics.
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:
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:
- 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 (thehighrisepages.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 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:
|Class||gap height>500||gap height>100||gap height>40||alle|
|6500 - 6999||407||1106||1296||1342|
|6000 - 6499||1217||7380||10428||10922|
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.
|China east of the Himalayas||206|
|North and South America||118|
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Last updated 11 March 2022.