Whether they’re infamously difficult to conquer, protected for their cultural significance, or revered for their beauty all mountains are natural wonders of the world. In celebration of yesterday’s International Mountain Day here are 5 of the most impressive peaks out there:
1. Mount Fuji, Japan
Perhaps one of the most famous mountains in the world, Fuji is one of the Three Holy Mountains of Japan and is designated a UNESCO world heritage site for its cultural significance. The mountain appears prominently in poetry and depicted in historical artworks and folklore. Attributed to the goddess Sakuya-hime, she is thought to prevent Fuji from erupting.
During the summer months when it’s safe to climb Fuji attracts 300,000 mountaineers and hikers a year. The relative ease of ascent and rest stations along the way make it a comparatively comfortable climb, however no mountain should ever be underestimated.
2. Mount Denali, USA
Although the peak of Mt. Everest is the highest terrestrial elevation on Earth at 5,200m, when measured from base-to-peak Mount Denali is actually one of the tallest mountain above sea level at 5,500m.
Denali translates to "The High One" in the language of the Koyukon people, but was controversially renamed as Mt. McKinley in 1896 to commemorate President McKinley. Both names have been appointed and reassigned through the years, with the designation of McKinley National Park seeing the mountain renamed as Denali, but when the park was expanded to become Denali National Park the mountain retained its English name.
However, in 2015 the mountain's indigenous name was rightfully restored by the U.S Department of Interior.
3. Kirkjufell, Iceland
Although miniscule in comparison to the others in this list with a peak of only 463m, Kirkjufell is located in one of the most striking landscapes in the world. It takes around 90 minutes to reach the summit, so is a good place to start for intermediate hikers and mountaineers. The name translates to Church Mountain and, if you take a guided tour to the summit, can see fossilised remains of birds and even fish.
Kirkjufell is beautiful in every season and is the most photographed mountain in Iceland, but if you go between November and February there’s good chance of capturing the mountain with the stunning backdrop of the aurora borealis.
4. Machhapuchchhre, Nepal
Machhapuchchhre is famous for its double summit with the Nepalese name unsurprisingly translating to "fish's tail". The mountain is located at the south end of a ridge in the Annapurna Himalayan range, and marks the entrance to the Annapurna Sanctuary, said to be the home of several deities.
The mountain itself is regarded as sacred in being the home of the god Shiva and therefore closed off to climbers; the summit has never been reached. Despite this the sanctuary is still a popular trekking destination, but has since issued restrictions on hikers in a bid to conserve the area.
5. El Capitan, USA
Located in Yosemite National Park this is one of the most popular climbing and BASE jumping spots in the United States. The sheer wall of rock poses a significant challenge, attracting climbers from all over to come every year.
The view from the top offers a vast vista of one of the first designated national parks in the world, and if you visit in February, just in time for the spring melt, might be lucky enough to glimpse the Horsetail Fall transform into the famous Firefall illusion, which cascades down El Capitan's east face.
By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern