Mt. Everest, which stands at 8,850 meters above sea level, undeniably has the highest altitudein the world. The distinction for the tallest mountain in the world, however, belongs to Mauna Kea which has an altitude of only 4,205 meters .
The catch: it’s a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii which is about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean. In other words, more than half of it, is submerged. When you add everything together, Mauna Kea is over 10,000 meters tall or way taller than the 8,850 meters of Mount Everest, making it the ‘world’s tallest mountain’.
Mauna Kea is only a million years old, formed after the Pacific tectonic plate moved over the Hawaiian hotspot. Back then, a huge plume of liquid magma gushed from deep inside Earth and when it cooled, Mauna Kea was formed. The last time it erupted was 46000 years ago, though.
Mauna Kea is famous for another distinction: the home of the world’s largest astronomical observatory, the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. Besides the fact that at this elevation, the summit is above 40% of Earth’s atmosphere, the extremely dry and almost cloud-free conditions make it an ideal spot to make astronomical observations.
Technically, if you scale Mauna Kea, you’ve reached the tallest peak the world and it’s such an easy climb.