Seven Summits: The Tallest Mountain on Each Continent

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The seven summits is the nickname for the mountains that are the highest on each of the seven continents.  The name originated from the climbing world to mark one of the most coveted mountaineering achievements.  The first person to climb all seven mountains was Richard Bass in 1985.  The selection of mountains on the list of seven summits can vary depending on how one acknowledges the geographic extent of the seven continents.  For example, the highest mountain in mainland Australia versus the entire Oceania region will result in different summits (Mount Kosciuszko versus Puncak Jaya, respectively).  For Europe, generally Mount Elbrus in Russia is accepted as the tallest mountain.

Listed here are the tallest mountains based on summit elevation for each of the seven continents as follows:

  • North America: Denali
  • South America: Aconcagua
  • Europe: Elbrus
  • Asia: Everest
  • Africa: Kilimanjaro
  • Australia: Kosciuszko
  • Antarctica: Vinson

Map of the Tallest Mountain for Each Continent

Map showing the location of the tallest mountain on each continent. Base map: Equal Earth, public domain.
Map showing the location of the tallest mountain on each continent. Base map: Equal Earth, public domain.

Tallest Mountain for Each Continent Ordered by Elevation

This graphic shows the tallest mountain for each continent ordered by elevation. Mount Everest, located in Asia, is the tallest mountain in the world.  The shortest mountain on the list of Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.

Tallest mountain on each continent. Graph adapted from Cmglee, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallest mountain on each continent. Graph adapted from Cmglee, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tallest Mountain in North America

This mountain was recently renamed back to its historic name after having been officially referred to by the US Federal government as Mount McKinlay from 1917 until 2015.   Denali is located in the Alaska Range in the interior of the US state of Alaska. With a summit height of 20,310 feet (6,190 m), Denali is the highest mountain in North America.  It is also the northernmost mountain above 6,000 meters elevation in the world.

Denali, Denali National Park, public domain, https://flic.kr/p/bYLaX7
Denali  Photo: Denali National Park, public domain.

Tallest Mountain in South America

Located in the Andes mountain range in Mendoza Province, Argentina, Aconcagua has a summit elevation of 6,960.8 meters (22,837 ft).  This makes it the highest mountain outside of Asia. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in both the southern and the western hemispheres. Aconcagua is also the highest peak in the Americas.

Anaconcagua. Photo: Gabriel-To, CC BY-ND 2.0
Anaconcagua. Photo: Gabriel-To, CC BY-ND 2.0

Tallest Mountain in Europe

With a summit elevation of 5,642 meters (18,510 ft), Mount Elbrus is considered the tallest mountain in Europe. The mountain sits within the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia near the border with Georgia.  Mount Elbrus has a second prominent summit with an elevation of 5,621 meters (18,442 ft). As the boundary between the continents of Europe and Asia are defined by the Caucasus Watershed, Mount Elbrus with its northern position is considered part of Europe.

Mount Elbrus, JukoFF, Mediawiki, public domain.
Mount Elbrus.  Photo: JukoFF, Mediawiki, public domain.

Tallest Mountain in Asia

The tallest mountain in Asia is also the world’s tallest mountain.  Located in the Himalaya mountain range, Mount Everest has a summit of 8,848 meters (29,029 ft).  The international border between Nepal and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across the summit point of Mount Everest.


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Aerial view of Mount Everest, Papa Lima Whiskey 2, Mediawiki, CC BY-SA 2.0
Aerial view of Mount Everest, Papa Lima Whiskey 2, Mediawiki, CC BY-SA 2.0

Tallest Mountain in Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa with a summit elevation of 5,895 meters (19,341 ft).  It is also the highest single free-standing mountain in the world.  Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano with three distinct volcanic cones, Kibo (the highest), Mawenzi at 5,149 meters (16,893 ft), and Shira, the lowest at 4,005 meters (13,140 ft). Uhuru Peak on Kibo’s crater rim is the highest summit.  Despite being located in a tropical latitude close to the equator, Kilimanjaro is capped with snow and ice.

Kilamanjaro, Takashi Muramatsu, CC BY-ND 2.0
Aerial photo of Kilamanjaro.  Photo: Takashi Muramatsu, CC BY-ND 2.0

Tallest Mountain in Australia

Located in New South Wales, Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s tallest mountain.  Located in the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains, Kosciuszko has a summit elevation of 2,228 meters (7,310 ft).  This makes it the shortest mountain in this list of the tallest mountain on each continent.

Mount Kosciuszko from south side, Mass Ave 975, MediaWiki, CC BY-SA 3.0
Mount Kosciuszko from south side.  Photo: Mass Ave 975, MediaWiki, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tallest Mountain in Antarctica

Located 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) from the South Pole, Mount Vinson is the tallest mountain in Antarctica.  The mountain lies within the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains and has a summit elevation of 4,892 meters (16,050 ft).

Mount Vinson, Christian Stangl, CC BY-SA 2.0
Mount Vinson, Photo: Christian Stangl, CC BY-SA 2.0

Watch: Tallest Mountain on Each Continent

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