The most beautiful mountains on the planet


There are few things on Earth as intimidating and equally fascinating as mountains. From small, but perfectly formed peaks to grand monoliths rising tall into the sky, mountains come in all shapes and sizes. Here, we travel across the globe and discover some of the fascinating stories behind the world’s most stunning mountains – click on ‘full screen’ to see these photos at their best.



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We’ve all heard of Everest and Fuji, and while these peaks are mesmerizing in their own ways, Kirkjufell in Iceland is altogether more ethereal. The gorgeous mountain can be found on the island’s western coastline, an area defined by crystalline fjords, geothermal pools and dynamic waterfalls. And while it might be the smallest on our list, it’s the most photographed peak in all of Iceland due to its incredible beauty and the Northern Lights that often dance in the night sky above.



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An unmistakable sight in St Lucia, The Pitons are one of the island’s best-known views. The two volcanic plugs are now covered in a dense green jungle and the Pitons – Gros Piton and Petit Piton – are home to no less than 245 different plant species, including eight rare tree species, and 27 bird species, five of them endemic.



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It’s not Scotland’s highest or most famous mountain so it often gets overlooked in favor of others, however, the spectacular mountain and its landscape has to be seen to be believed. Surrounded by the peaks of Glencoe and offering incredible views over the Loch Etive, Buachaille Etive Beag is one of the Scottish Highland’s most perfectly formed mountains. The name, pronounced booachil etiv bek, means small herdsman of Etive.



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No visit to Snowdonia in Wales is complete without seeing the awe-inspiring Snowdon – the highest summit in England and Wales. Almost as famous as the mountain itself, the Snowdon Mountain Railway is a masterful feat of engineering that was constructed over 14 months in 1894 and has been running ever since. Impressively, three of the five Swiss-manufactured steam locomotives bought in 1895 are still in service today too.



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Located within the remote Auyuittuq National Park, Mount Thor (officially known as Thor Peak) is named after the Norse god of thunder and for very good reason as it’s so intimidating. Featuring the world’s longest vertical drop at a hair-raising 4,101 feet (1,250m), the slope isn’t easily ascended either. In fact, it’s so difficult, the mountain wasn’t conquered until as recently as 1985, when a four-man American team completed it in 33 grueling days.



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Although Huangshan Mountains, or the Yellow Mountains, are not among China’s tallest, they definitely are among the most spectacular. Nicknamed the loveliest mountain in China, Huangshan and its otherworldly pine-clad rock formations have captured people’s imagination for centuries. The misty mountains have inspired many Chinese forms of art, especially the shan shui style of landscape painting.



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Also known as Huashan, Mount Hua is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains in China. It’s long been a place of pilgrimage, however, it’s also known for offering one of the world’s deadliest hikes. A network of trails snake around the mountain, including steep stone steps. But it’s the infamous Plank Path – narrow and rickety planks bolted onto the sheer mountainside around 5,000 feet (1,524m) in the sky – that is the most treacherous stretch.



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Traditionally known as Jabal Musa, Mount Sinai is one of the Earth’s most mysterious mountains. An otherworldly Mars-like landscape, the mountain is located in the Sinai Peninsula and is thought to be the biblical Mount Sinai. One of the most sacred locations in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions, this is the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments in the Bible.



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Granted, this is a valley rather than a mountain, however, such an impressive collection of peaks couldn’t be left off of the list. The valley, also the location of the famous Moraine Lake, is crowned by 10 notable peaks, including Mount Tuzo, Tonsa and the tallest – Deltaform Mountain. This spectacular landscape was honored by featuring on the reverse side of the 1969 and 1979 issues of the Canadian $20 bill.



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Situated along the Alberta and British Columbia border in Canada, Mount Assiniboine wouldn’t look out of place in Iceland. This beautiful peak is surrounded by an equally idyllic landscape and there’s a fascinating story behind its name too. Named by geologist George Mercer Dawson in 1885, the clouds trailing from the top of the mountain reminded him of the smoke plumes rising from the teepees of the Assiniboine people.



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New Zealand is famed for its breathtaking natural wonders and Mount Cook is no exception. The country’s highest mountain, Mount Cook is the name given by the European settlers, however, Māori have always known it as Aoraki. A young boy in a significant Māori legend, the people have always considered Aoraki as the most sacred of their ancestors.



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Switzerland has some pretty magical mountains, but the jagged peak of the Matterhorn surely wins hands down. The mountain, straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy, overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt to the northeast and the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia to the south. The town also gives the mountain its Italian name Cervino. Sometimes even called the Mountain of Mountains, Matterhorn is symbolic of all of the European Alps.



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It’s no secret that Mount Everest is the Himalayas’ most famous peak, however, this mountain range is home to many other spectacular mountains. One such mountain is Ama Dablam. Sometimes referred to as the Matterhorn of the Himalayas, the name loosely translates as mother’s necklace. This is a reference to the hanging glacier, that resembles a dablam, a traditional double-pendant containing pictures of gods worn by Sherpa women.



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Peppered with some of the world’s highest mountains, Annapurna Massif is one of the most treacherous areas in the world for mountain climbers. The entire massif and the surrounding area are protected within the Annapurna Conservation Area, the first and largest conservation area in Nepal. The range is named after Annapurna, the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, as many of the streams cascading down the mountains provide water for agricultural fields and pastures.



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You simply cannot talk about the world’s mountains and not mention Mount Everest. The mother of all mountains, it rises so high, you’d need almost 11 Burj Khalifas (the world’s tallest building) to match its height. Located right on the border of Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region within China, the first recorded ascent up this incredible mountain was completed by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as recently as 1953.



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31/31 SLIDES

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