Is Mount Everest the tallest mountain in the world? Mt Denali thinks otherwise

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadAug 17, 2022 | 17:11

Is Mount Everest the tallest mountain in the world? Mt Denali thinks otherwise

Which mountain is taller - Mount Everest (L) or Mount Denali (R)? Photo: Getty Images

Which is the tallest mountain in the world? You will say Mount Everest. It's a fact that everyone knows since birth like they know the Earth is not flat. But the Denali National Park and Reserve in Alaska, USA, claims otherwise. It says Mount Denali is taller than Mount Everest. 

"Denali is taller than Everest. You read that right," Denali National Park and Reserve stated. 

Denali is taller than Everest. You read that right.
- Denali National Park and Reserve

Mount Denali is located in Alaska, a state in the US. It is the highest peak in all of North America. 

Are you thinking what we thought when we heard the declaration?

Did Mount Denali grow a few feet taller overnight?

Was there a tectonic shift in plates that didn't result in massive earthquakes?

Did humans make an error in calculating the tallest peak on Earth?

Did the ice on Mount Everest melt so much due to global warming that is several feet shorter now?

It's not due to either of the situations. Mount Denali claims to be taller than Mount Everest based on a different measurement of height than the standard. 

Base to summit measurement: Mount Denali measured its height from base to summit. Base is where the mountain meets the flat or less slope-y land. In that sense, Mount Denali's base is just 2,000 feet high up; while Mount Everest's base is at 17,000 feet. Mount Everest's Base Camp 1 rests at 17,598 feet; just a little higher than its actual base.

By this calculation, Mount Everest's height from base to summit, or its vertical rise is 12,000 feet. While Mount Denali's vertical rise is 18,000 feet.

So, is Mount Denali really taller than Mount Everest? When measured from base to summit; yes, Mount Denali is taller than Mount Everest. 

What is the current yardstick of measurement? Mountains are measured from the sea level. So, Mount Everest is 29,032 feet above sea level, while Mount Denali is 20,310 feet above sea level. This is the standard measurement used across the world so that the estimations remain accurate. It is used because the Earth is not a perfect sphere with an even ground. 


So, by standard measurement, Mount Everest is still taller than Mount Denali and the tallest in the world. 

Illustration of the highest summits in each of the seven continents in the world. Photo: Anurag Paul/Wikimedia Commons

By other dimensions...

There are also other ways to look at which is the taller mountain in the world.

While Mount Denali can claim to be the tallest mountain on land when measuring from base to summit, it still won't be the tallest if the 'land' part is removed. 

Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, in Hawaii, is the tallest mountain on Earth, 'technically' if we measure its vertical rise from the base to the summit. It stands at a staggering 33,500 feet. Except: 19,698 feet of the mountain including its base are underwater

Height from the Earth's centre

Similarly, Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador can claim to be the closest mountain to space because of its height from the Earth's centre.

You see, Earth is not a perfect sphere either; it bulges out at the equator. Mount Chimborazo is situated near the equator, making its peak the closest to space and the highest peak when measured from the Earth's centre. In comparison, Mount Everest is two kilometers short of being the highest peak from the Earth's centre. 


In the end, the argument is all about the perspective. 

An illustration of the tallest mountains by different measurements. Photo: US Ocean Service

Mount Everest definitely has its reputation, and people around the world dream of conquering it. When it comes to climbing mountains, Mount Everest is not the most dangerous or the most difficult mountain to climb in the world either, despite holding the title of being the tallest peak. Between Mount Everest and Mount Denali, mountaineers have differing views on which is the hardest to climb. 

While some say Mount Denali is harder, others say Mount Everest is harder. It takes months to summit Mount Everest, and typically mountaineers need supplemental oxygen unless it's pro-pro climbers. It takes about 3 weeks to summit Mount Denali and doesn't typically require supplemental oxygen as there is no "death zone".

Which mountain do you think is taller - Mount Everest or Mount Denali?

Last updated: August 17, 2022 | 17:11
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