Forget Everest, Mount Chimborazo is Tallest
There's good news for peak baggers everywhere, if former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings (he won 74 episodes) can be believed. He says that the Andes' technically easy Mount Chimborazo reigns mightier than Mount Everest. We’ve just all been looking at the matter of height from the wrong vantage point.
In a blog post for Condé Nast Traveler, Jennings states that the Ecuadorean volcano's summit is the farthest point from the center of the Earth. Even though Everest stands nearly two miles taller than Chimborazo (with an altitude of 20,702 feet) from sea level, Chimborazo technically stretches out farther.
That's because of a phenomenon known as equatorial bulge. You see, the earth is not a perfect sphere. Instead, a combination of gravity and rotational centrifugal force have pushed the Earth’s mass slightly outward from its middle—the bulge. Jennings describes it:
"Imagine hula-hooping for a few hours after a big Thanksgiving dinner and you’ll get the idea. The resulting shape is often called an ‘oblate ellipsoid’: slightly flatter at the poles and bulgier at the equator than you’d expect.”
So, when measured from the Earth's core, Chimborazo sticks 7,000-plus feet farther out into space. While both Everest and Chimborazo can claim superiority in some regard—depending on the measuring point—we think Chimborazo is probably the easier route to a book deal/speaking tour.