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By One Measure, This Is World's Tallest Mountain

Chimborazo leaves Everest in its dust, kind of
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2016 2:35 PM CDT
By One Measure, This Is World's Tallest Mountain
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The New York Times chips away at a fact you've known since grade school: that 29,029-foot Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. It is, of course, when measured as distance above sea level. But define tallest as the point on the planet closest to space, and Ecuador's 20,702-foot Mount Chimborazo takes the top slot, with Everest banished from the Top 20. Chimborazo's peak sits 3,967 miles from the center of the Earth, while Everest is a full two miles shy of that. Chimborazo's nearness to the equator is why: Though the Earth is a sphere, it's not a perfect one, and it "bulges slightly around its waistline," per the Times, giving the Andean peak an advantage that the Himalayas, thousand of miles north of the equator, don't enjoy.

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Jeopardy master Ken Jennings shared some trivia about Chimborazo with Conde Nast Traveler in 2012. He, too, pointed out the inactive volcano's supremacy over Everest, but noted that when it comes to sheer elevation, some three dozen mountains are taller than it in South America. Jennings notes that one could also argue that neither Everest nor Chimborazo take the cake: Hawaii's own Mauna Kea rises 33,478 feet from its base, but much of that base is under the sea. As for Chimborazo's reputation, the Times sees it as a vastly easier mountain to climb than Everest, with the whole process taking roughly two weeks to Everest's eight. That said, at the Guardian, amateur climber Kevin Rushby recounts his struggle to summit Chimborazo—he hallucinated green rabbits when he reached the top. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)

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