The Tallest Mountain on Each Continent

A survey of the seven continents' tallest mountains reveals a large gap in elevation numbers, with the highest, Mt. Everest, topping out at almost double the height of the lowest peak we'll cover, the Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

With the exception of Everest, the peaks discussed in this brief survey of continental altitude are not among the world's highest. Numerous mountains in Pakistan, Nepal, and China, for example, are much larger. But the disparate set of high elevation locales we'll explore below holds more interest, offering a wide range of geographical differences.

We hope you enjoy this breakdown of the highest alpine locations on each continent!

Asia: Everest

In southern Asia, at the top of the Great Himalayas, between Nepal and Tibet, sits the world's highest mountain, Everest. The governmental Survey of India in 1852 deemed Everest the highest peak, with an elevation of 29,035 feet.

Expeditions seeking the summit began in the 1920s, and in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay went down in history as the first to reach the top of Mount Everest. Many others have summited Everest since 1953. Those seeking to join their ranks can tackle the world's tallest mountain with a guided tour to the top. It takes about 60 days from the south side in Nepal.

South America: Aconcagua

South America's tallest mountain, and the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, is Mount Aconcagua, located on the Chilean border in Argentina. Its elevation is 22,838 feet. Aconcagua has a pair of lofty summits, the northern peak being the higher of the two. It was first reached in 1897 by Swiss climber Matthias Zurbriggen.

North America: Denali

The tallest mountain in North America is Denali, located in the middle of the Alaska Range. The highest of its two summits rises from the Denali Fault to a dizzying 20,320 feet. It was first reached by Hudson Stuck and Harry Karstens in 1913. Denali is climbable, drawing many adventure seekers each year, and visitors to the area can take in the grandeur of nearby glaciers.

Africa: Kilimanjaro

Towering 19,340 Feet above the flatlands of northeastern Tanzania, in the Eastern Rift Mountains, is an awe-inspiring dormant volcano, Mt Kilimanjaro. It's a doable climb for experienced mountaineers, plus breathtaking natural forests and abundant wildlife make Kilimanjaro a constant draw for the outward bound. There are three extinct volcanoes in this part of the range; the highest has a central cone named Kibo, which is the summit of Kilimanjaro. It was reached for the first time in 1889 by German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller.

Europe: Elbrus

The highest peak in Europe is Mount Elbrus, an extinct volcano in southwestern Russia. It has two cones, the highest one reaching an elevation of 18,510 feet. A British expedition led by Swiss guide Peter Knubel first summited this European highpoint in 1874.

Oceania: Puncak Jaya

The tallest mountain in Oceania, a region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, is Jaya Peak, or Puncak Jaya, which is also called Mt. Carstensz. It's located on the island of New Guinea, rising 16,024 feet above the sea, making it the highest island mountain in the world. One would think that Australia, Oceania's massive neighbor to the south, would have a ranking tall mountain, but its highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko, which tops out at just 7,310 feet.

Antarctica: Vinson

At 16,050 feet, the Vinson Massif is just over half the altitude of Everest but makes the list as the tallest mountain in Antarctica. This frozen, remote peak is part of the Ellsworth Mountains in the western part of Antarctica. Mt Vinson was discovered in 1935 by American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth and it was summited in 1966 by an American expedition.

An assessment of each continent's highest elevation leads to several comparatively low-altitude peaks. For example, the second tallest mountain we covered, Aconcagua in South America, is dwarfed by over 100 mountains in China, Pakistan, Nepal, and India. But, those peaks are all remote, jagged, and icy, whereas the highest peaks on each continent make up a varied and fascinating group of alpine wonders. We hope you enjoyed this look at some of the world's tallest mountains.