- by Beatrice
- Last Updated: 2020-02-06
When we talk about the high mountains of Tibet Plateau, the Himalayas will come to minds for most people. The Himalayas is the most famous one of the Tibetan Mountain ranges, for it contains 10 of the 15 highest mountains in the world. The Himalayas form a great divide between the subcontinent of India and the Tibetan Plateau, and it is there where you will find the highest mountains in the world - Everest.
Nowhere will you find in the world 26 of the 100 highest mountains in the world clustered together in a single place except in the Tibetan Plateau. Several mountain ranges run along the Tibetan Plateau. They are the Himalayas, Karakoram range-Tanggula Mountains, Gangtise-Nyenchen Tanglha, the Kunlun Mountain Range, and Hengduan Mountain Range. Here is a rundown of the most famous highest mountains of Tibet:
1. The Majestic Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the main peak of the Himalayas, as the highest mountain on earth, towering around 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. It sits right at the very border of Tibet and Nepal and has base camps on each side. The Tibetans refer to Mount Everest as “Chomulungma” which means “Goddess Mother of the earth”; while the Nepalese call it "Sagarmatha", which means "forehead in the sky". These base camps are frequented by tourists who are desirous of taking a glimpse of the highest point in the world and climbing expeditions who want to scale this majestic mountain.
Two base camps were established on each side of Everest, one in the Tibetan side and another in the Nepalese side. The Everest Base Camp in Tibet is the more accessible one for it is reachable by road and is a popular tourist destination in Tibet. The base camp in Nepal, on the other hand, would require you to trek for a week just to reach it. Many Tibet Everest Tour packages include a side trip to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) as a highlight. Many of these tour packages consist of 7 to 10-day tours that usually begin in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
2. Lhotse —The 4th Highest Peak on Earth
Towering at 8,516 meters (27,940 ft), Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain on earth. Only Everest, K2, and Kangchengunga top Lhotse. The Tibetans refer to Lhotse as the "South Peak," and it is the literal meaning of the word "Lhotse." Lhotse has two other lower peaks. Its main summit was first scaled on May 18 of 1956 by Fritz Luchsinger and Ernst Reiss.
Getting a glimpse of Lhotse on the Tibetan side would surely be difficult and the best point to see it from there is along the Geu La Pass and it should be on a clear day. However, if you really want to see the majesty of Lhotse, you should take a trek to the Kangshung Valley near Khrata east of Mt. Everest. There, you will surely get to behold the majestic Lhotse. But it is doubtful that you will brave this challenge of going there for it is truly quite difficult to reach the Kangshung Valley.
3. Makalu—The 5th Highest Mountain in the World
Makalu, with the elevation of 8,463 meters (27,766 ft) also belongs to the Himalayas. Located specifically in Mahalangur Himalayas, which is just 19-km away from Mount Everest, Makalu also straddles the border of Tibet and Nepal. From afar, Makalu is like a great pyramid with four sides. It is, however, isolated and is noted for its secondary peak called Kangchungtse or Makalu II. It was first scaled by Lionel Terray along with Jean Couzy and their team in 1955.
Makalu, Tibet is one of the most treacherous and difficult Eight-thousanders to scale. It is notorious for knife-edged ridges and steep pitches. You should have a higher level of technical rock climbing if you would dare to scale its summit. However, if you are simply a plain tourist who wants to get a glimpse of Makalu from afar, you could behold it at the Geu La Pass on your way to Everest Base Camp. You can also get a glimpse of it on the Nepalese side in the Sankhuwasabha District which has the Makalu Barun National Park.
4. Cho Oyu—The 6th Highest Peak on Earth
Straddling side by side with the other Eight-thousanders like Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu, Cho Oyu records an elevation of 8,201 meters (26,906 ft). Cho Oyu is considered easier to scale than the other first three Eight-thousanders. So, if you plan to scale an Eight-thousander, you can begin with Cho Oyu.
Kidding aside, as a tourist, you can get a glimpse of Cho Oyu from its base camp which is easily accessible by road from the Old Tingri town. Cho Oyu literally means "Turquoise Goddess" in the Tibetan language. It is also 20-km away from Mt. Everest. Cho Oyu was first scaled in 1952 by Joseph Jochcler and Herbert Tichy.
5. Shishapangma—14th Highest Mountain on Earth
Mount Shishapangma is ranked as the 14th highest mountain on earth with a height of 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) above sea level. It holds the distinction of being the only Eight-thousander that is completely inside Tibet. Moreover, it is the last Eight-thousander to be scaled by humans.
Eight-thousanders are those mountains that are 8,000 meters or more in height, and there are only 14 mountains that are either 8,000 or more in height. The Everest, of course, is the tallest mountain in Tibet, but it does not sit entirely inside Tibet's territory. Shishapangma, on the other hand, is the only one that is entirely inside Tibet.
If you want to see Shishapangma up close, you can reach it by road. However, very few tourists travel this route despite the awesome sceneries that you would see along this way to Shishapangma. If your tour of Tibet includes a tour to Everest Base Camp, you will surely get a chance to glimpse this majestic mountain.
Shishapangma is situated in Tibet's southcentral region. It is roughly five kilometers from Nepal's border. Shishapangma has two summits, one at the height of 8,013 and the other one, at an elevation of 8,027. So, some climbers who claimed to have reached the summit of this mountain, had, in fact, only reached the lower summit. It was first scaled by Xǔ Jìng, who led a Chinese expedition to the summit of this mountain in 1964.
6. Gyachung Kang—The 15th Highest Mountain in the World
Slightly lower than the Eight-thousanders is the Gyachung Kang with an elevation of 7,952 meters (26,086 ft). It also straddles the border of Tibet and Nepal along the section of Himalayas (Mahalangur Himal) where you will find the other highest mountains like Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, and Makalu. It holds the record of being the highest mountain that is not an Eight-thousander.
Though less popular than its fellow peaks in this section, Gyang Kang’s height is still remarkable. Gyang Kang was first scaled in 1964 by Y. Kato, K. Sakaizawa and Pasang Phutar. You can see the majestic Gyanchung Kang along the Geu La Pass when you make a tour of the EBC.
7. Naimonanyi (7,694 m) or Gurla Mandhata—The 34th Highest Mountain in the World
Naimonanyi is around 7,694 meters high and is the 34th highest mountain in the world. Its name is Gurla Mandhata in Tibet and is named after an Ikshvaku dynasty king, Mandhata of survayavansha. It is situated in Ngari Prefecture in Burang County. It is close to the northwest border of Nepal. It is also near the famous Lake Manasarovar.
The first expedition team to ascend this mountain was led by Katsutoshi Hirabayashi who scaled the summit through the northside in 1985. If you want to get a glimpse of this majestic mountain, you can see it as you tour Lake Manasarovar.
8. Changtse—The 44th Highest Mountain in the World
Changtse is situated completely in Tibet and is just north of Mount Everest. It is 7,543 meters above sea level. The North Col connects this mountain to Mount Everest. The first scaling of the summit of Mount Changtse was in 1982 by Johan Taks who led a Dutch Everest Expedition in that year. However, since he did not ask for a permit, his ascent was unofficial. Hence, the first official summiting of this mountain was made by a German expedition who scaled the summit 11 days after.
9. Gyala Peri—The 84th Highest Mountain on Earth
Gyala Peri belongs to the top 100 highest mountains in the world, ranking at 84th. It is 7,294 meters or 23,930 feet above sea level. It is situated just beyond the Himalayan's eastern end at the entry point to Tsangpo Gorge. It is situated just north of Yarlung Tsangpo River's Great Bend. Gyala Peri was first scaled in 1986 via its south ridge by a Japanese expedition.
10. Porong Ri—The 86th Highest Mountain in the World
Porong Ri is found in the Himalayas' Langtang Region. Its height is 7,292 meters (23,924 feet), barely 2 meters higher than the Gyala Peri. It is ranked as the 86th highest mountain in the world. It is located in Tibet and it is around a kilometer away from Nepal's border. It was first scaled by a Japanese expedition team in 1982.
11. Kailash—The Most Sacred Mountain in Tibet
Mount Kailash doesn’t belong to the Top 100 highest mountains in the world, but it stands tall as the most sacred mountain in Tibet. Located just near the sacred lake of Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal, it belongs to Gangtise Mountain Range. Mt.Kailash is considered the center of the world by four religions, namely, Bon, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
In Bön, it is considered as the "axis mundi" (center of the universe). In Hinduism, Mt. Kailash is considered traditionally as Lord's Shiva's Abode. In Jainism, Mt. Kailash is the place where Jain Tirthankara attained liberation (Moksha). And in Buddhism, Mt. Kailash is referred to as Mt. Meru, and thus, it is a sacred pilgrimage site.
Mt. Kailash is around 6,638 m (21,778 ft). This elevation is no mean height too for it is still an over-imposing mountain due to its height. However, it doesn't need to be the highest mountain or an Eight-thousander to be popular among tourists and pilgrims. There were attempts in the past to scale the summit of Mount Kailash, but none has succeeded. Thus, this sacred mountain is still spared from the scaling of humans.
It is the habit of pilgrims to circumambulate or walk around a sacred site and this habit is called Kora. The Mount Kailash Kora is one of the world's most valuable pilgrimage Kora. The Mount Kailash Kora begins in Darchen, a small town, south of Mount Kailash. This Kora takes around 3 days to complete, for it is a 52-km walk around this sacred mountain. Thus, you should carefully plan this Kora, and it is best done with the guidance of an expert in Mt. Kailash Tour.
Other Towering Mountains
So, when it comes to Tibet, you can say that the Tibetan mountains are really of superlative statures and they are mostly clustered within and around the Tibetan plateau. Other high mountains in Tibet that deserve mention here are the Noiji Kansang (7,206 m), Nyainqentanglha Feng (7,162), Loinbo Kangri (7,095 M), Ulugh Muztagh (6,973 m), Kaluxung (6.674 m), and Yarlashampo (6,635 m).
If you are a certified mountain aficionado or someone who finds pleasure in beholding the grandeur of high mountains, you should never think twice about touring Tibet. You’ll be astonished at how splendid the towering mountains of Tibet are and will be mesmerized by the magnificent sceneries they offer.
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