We’ve always been amazed by the courage and folly of trying to climb a 20,000 foot mountain just because it’s there. Which is why we were delighted to find this elegantly designed infographic, by Audree Lapierre of FFunction.
It simply shows the world’s Seven Summits — the tallest mountains o each of the seven continents, which together form a kind of grand slam for world-class mountaineers.
But then below the chart are the rankings of a mountain’s “prominence.” Also called autonomous height, relative height, or simply prime factor, it’s basically a measure of how tall a mountain is relative to its surrounding topography. So you actually learn a little bit about what it feels like to climb a given summit. If a mountain is tall but has a low prominence, then it probably doesn’t feel all that dramatic — you feel like you’re on top of simple one mountain among many others. But mountains with higher prominence jut up from the land around them — the loom over the surrounding landscape. Thus, when climbed, they offer a more dramatic sense of ascent and greater views. And once you’re at the top, the give you more of a sense of being on the literal top of the world.
[Via Audree Lapierre]