Hawaii (4,205 m, 4,169 m) – Tallest Mountain in the World from Base to Peak; Tallest Active Volcano in the World
Mauna Kea is the highest point in Hawaii. However, its real claim to fame is that, when measured from base to tip, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Earth. Judged this way, the 10,300 meter tall Mauna Kea is more than twice the height of Mount Everest. Mauna Loa, the younger sibling of Mauna Kea, is the largest active volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa has been erupting more or less continuously for well over half a million years, and will likely continue for the same period into the future. Thanks to Mauna Loa, the Big Island of Hawaii is in an ongoing state of growth.
The big island of Hawaii was discovered and settled almost immediately after the arrival of the first Polynesian explorers in pre-Columbian times. The mountains of Kea and Loa were sources of water, valuable minerals and rich soil and were considered sacred by ancient Hawaiians. According to local legend, Mauna Loa is home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Mauna Kea was probably the first land spotted by European explorers under James Cook when they arrived in 1778. The first recorded ascent in 1823 was accomplished in a single day by an American missionary, although it was almost certainly climbed earlier by locals.
A formerly very active volcano, Mauna Kea is a mere million years old. It is a very popular mountain to ascend, with driveable roads going almost completely to the top. The mountain’s peak is home to four of the world’s most powerful astronomical observatories. Mauna Loa is the centerpiece and highlight of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Despite the regular lava flow, the volcano does not generally erupt violently, making it one of the safest and most popular active volcanoes in the world to visit. Both mountains are easily accessible from the town of Hilo thirty miles away.