Why is it that so many people are drawn to mountains? For years and years people have been climbing them, mining them, framing them or even naming them. Why do people want to conquer the mountains?
If you dare to explore it, you’ll find that the reasons are many and definitely varied. From our own point of view, it’s because mountains are beautiful, each one presenting its own aura, its own challenges, its own personality and its own quirkiness. Each one of them has a story to tell and possibly a mysterious beginning. Most of them look very impressive any time of the year, changing colours through the seasons and never fail to beckon.
Somehow the mountains, because of their sheer size, their presence and their permanence make you realize how small you are, how vulnerable you can be and how fleeting your life can be. But no matter what, let’s take a look at some of the iconic, scenic and majestic mountains around the globe that are worth seeing at least once in your life.
Mount Rinjani – Indonesia
Mount Rinjani is an active volcano and part of the ring of fire. Its size dominates its location, the small island of Lombok. With is 3,726-metre elevation it is Indonesia’s second highest volcano. It has a caldera measuring 50 square kilometres within which sits the Segara Anak crater lake. This crater is sacred to the locals. Succeeding eruptions have formed a new cone within the caldera, called the Gunung Baru or the New Mountain. The volcano is protected by the Mount Rinjani National Park.
Above the mountain’s tree line are barren slopes. However, thick forests cover the lower and mid-levels. It’s not an easy climb, which could take three days, but when you’ve reached the caldera rim, you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of the crater lake. If you arrive in the early morning, the sunrise view from this spot is quite breathtaking. You’ll also be able to see the island of Sumbawa, which lies to the east and Bali, which is to the west of the mountain.
Mount Everest – Himalayas
There is no escaping Mount Everest; after all it is the tallest mountain in the world, soaring to a magnificent height of 8,850 metres or 29,035 feet, according to the most recent available data. It is part of the Himalayan mountain range, located in the range’s Mahalangur section while its summit straddles the border between Nepal and China.
Mount Everest had attracted experienced mountaineers and less-seasoned climbers for decades, with local guides known as Sherpas providing able assistance. While so many people have reached its peak, the unforgiving mountain also had claimed hundreds of lives. The first explorers to reach the formidable mountain’s summit were Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and his Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay. They reached the apex on May 29, 1953 at 11:30 in the morning. The latest and the youngest person to have reached the summit was 13-year old Malavath Purna from India. She reached the peak of Mount Everest on May 25, 2014.
Mountains of Banff – Canada
Banff is a scenic resort town in Alberta, Canada that is located within the Banff National Park. It is a favourite tourist destination, popular for its hot springs and mountainous surroundings, where visitors can indulge in many popular outdoor activities. Four mountains are within the park, namely Cascade Mountain, Mount Norquay, Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle.
Mount Rundle is the favourite of Canadian artist Walter Phillips, who considered the mountain his bread and butter because, according to him, he never tire of painting this beautiful mountain that constantly changes throughout the day. Mount Rundle is one of the most recognized among the mountains in the Canadian Rockies and often graced many a calendar. In the morning, the mountain is in deep shadows, which changes to a warm orange glow as the sun sets. As artist Phillips said, its colours run from orange to cold blue-grey interspersed with violet overtones and green intervals.
Sulphur Mountain has nine hot springs, which are homes to the endangered and endemic Banff Springs snail. The commercial ones are the Banff Upper Hot Springs, which is the highest and the lowest one that is called the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Sulphur Mountain has an elevation of 2,451 metres or 8,041 feet, with a still existing meteorological observatory building on Sanson Peak that was completed in 1903.
Mount Norquay is a ski resort with 36 runs and has some of North America’s most difficult terrains. The ski resort’s terrain is challenging, with 10.2 miles (16.4 kilometres) of runs and a vertical drop of 1,650 feet or 503 metres.
Cascade Mountain is the tallest mountain that is close to the town of Banff, with an elevation of 2,998 metres or 9,836 feet. The grand dame looks quite imposing when seen from the Banff Avenue. It was named after the waterfall on its southern side. The aurora borealis could be seen playing over its peak at certain times of the year.
The Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps – Switzerland
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The Matterhorn definitely cuts a striking image against the sky, clearly recognizable for its imposing size and its almost pyramid-like shape. No one can deny its beauty, and experienced climbers cannot wait to ascend it. Matterhorn though is a difficult mountain to conquer, as the weather around it could be very unpredictable. Matterhorn cuts through pristine landscapes and profuse meadows as it rises to a height of 4,478 metres or 14,692 feet. What makes Matterhorn striking is its isolation and its formidable image, which is majestic and almost mystical. It stands there as if daring you to come and conquer.
Klyuchevskaya Sopka – Russia
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The Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the highest volcano in Eurasia, and a very beautiful one at that, with its almost perfect cone. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and its most recent activity occurred on January 2, 2015, considered only a weak strombolian eruption. In 2013, it started its minor eruption on January 25, which was repeated on August 15 and October 12. It had a strong explosion on November 19, spewing tall plumes of ash but it did not last long. Activities started again on November 29 until December 7. When it is not having one of its temperamental activities, the Klyuchevskaya Sopka could be climbed from all sides. The volcano is estimated to be 6,000 to 7,000 years old.
Aoraki/Mount Cook – New Zealand
New Zealand’s highest mountain is called Aoraki or Cloud Piercer, which was formerly known as Mount Cook, named after James Cook, who was the first European to circumnavigate the country. Its current official height is 3,724 metres or 12,218 feet. Aoraki presents an awesome and breathtaking sight, with its 140 peaks and 72 glaciers that have been named. It is a favourite tourist destination, a challenging mountain for even the most experienced climbers and skiers and an outstanding location, with a variety of destinations near and around the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
Located in South Island, the region is well known for its wonderfully clear evening sky where you can see the stars and warm sunshine-kissed days. There are amazing lakes filled with turquoise blue waters and valleys colored emerald due to their lush vegetation. You can take regular short walks in the summer or go alpine hiking that could last for a few days, go boating, fishing, ride horses or go on a 4WD safari. To see the Aoraki/Mount Cook in all its glory, scenic flights aboard fixed wing planes and helicopter are available. As the locale is far from the city, it is the best place for stargazing, and more than 4,300 square kilometres of the South Island has been declared in June 2012 as an International Dark Sky Reserve, which is the largest of its kind in the world.
Grand Teton – Wyoming USA
Another mountain that changes colour throughout the day and the seasons is the Grand Teton, the highest mountain within the Grand Teton National Park. It is one of the most popular destinations of mountaineers in the United States. Rising to a height of 13,775 feet or 4,199 metres, it has several climbing routes although most of them are exposed and should only be attempted by experienced climbers. Still, the park surrounding the mountain has plenty of things to offer. Aside from its fantastic mountain scenery, there is a variety of things to see and do at the park, from spring to winter. You can hike walk, camp, backpack, fish, swim or bike. You can ski and ride snowmobiles, go on overnight backpacking trips, go canoeing and boating (requires permits) and take plenty of photographs. There are over 100 species of flower species in the park and a wide variety of animals, including the rarely seen mountain lion. Likewise, the park is home to about 300 species of birds.