Mountains It is a lot harder to climb a mountain than to hike across a plain. You might need special shoes to help your feet grip the ground on a mountain or ropes to help pull you up in steep places. A plain is flat. A mountain rises up high above the ground. Project by: TAZE JARED Create by Encarta premuim2005 and encyclopaedia Britannica 2005 of the computer owned by Abubo Family
The Highest Mountain on Each Continent 4,509 14,793 Papua New Guinea Mount Wilhelm Australia and the Pacific Islands 4,897 16,066 Antarctica Vinson Massif Antarctica 5,642 18,510 Russia Mount Elbrus Europe 5,895 19,341 Tanzania Kilimanjaro Africa 6,194 20,320 United States Mount McKinley North America 6,960 22,834 Argentina Aconcagua South America 8,850 29,035 China-Nepal Mount Everest Asia Meter Feet Location Mountain Continent
HOW DO MOUNTAINS DIFFER FROM HILLS?
You would have a longer climb to the top of a mountain than to the top of a hill. Mountains are higher than hills. The tallest mountain in the world is Mount Everest between Nepal and Tibet. The top of Mount Everest is 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above the level of the sea. That’s more than five miles high!
Most hills are rounded. A mountain comes to a peak at the top. A mountain looks a little like a pyramid. A mountain has a wide base, or bottom, and a narrow top.
Some mountains stand by themselves. Most mountains are in groups called ranges. Mount Everest is in a range called the Himalayas. The Rockies and the Appalachians are mountain ranges in North America. Low places between mountains in a range are called valleys.
WHERE DO MOUNTAINS COME FROM?
Geologists (scientists who study the Earth) think that some mountains come from movements in Earth’s crust. The crust is the rocky outside layer of Earth. Geologists think that Earth’s crust is made up of gigantic pieces called plates that move around very slowly.
Sometimes the moving plates crunch together. The edges of the crunching plates wrinkle up to make mountains. Plates crunching together and wrinkling up made the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains.
Sometimes one side of a plate lifts up like a big block of rock. You can see these kinds of mountains in the southwestern United States.
Some mountains form when hot, melted rock oozes up from deep inside Earth. The melted rock is called magma. Mountains made from magma are volcanoes. Magma that comes out of the top of a volcano is called lava. Lava cools, turns solid, and builds up to make the hard rock that forms a mountain. Mount Rainier near Seattle, Washington, is a volcano.
Some mountains are carved out by erosion. Wind and water wear away soil and soft rock. The hard rock stays and becomes mountains. The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and Missouri were made by erosion.
Alps The Alps make up the largest mountain system in Europe. They are world-famous for their scenic beauty. The Alps are a region of majestic, snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, narrow lakes, and wide glaciers. The Alps reach across south-central Europe in a broad arc. They stretch all the way from southern France, in the west, to eastern Austria. Along the way, the mountains cross Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. The Alps form a chain that extends about 750 miles (1,200 kilometers).
The highest mountain in the Alps is Mont Blanc. It lies on the border between France and Italy and rises to a height of 15,782 feet (4,810 meters). But perhaps the most famous mountain in the Alps is the spectacular Matterhorn. This jagged, horn-shaped peak stands in southwestern Switzerland, near the border with Italy.
SNOW, ICE, AND RIVERS
Snow and ice cover the high slopes of the Alps year round. Glaciers move very slowly down from the high peaks. Over thousands of years, as the glaciers move downhill, they carve out steep, U-shaped valleys.
Melting snow from the glaciers feeds many streams and rivers. Some of Europe’s most important rivers, such as the Rhine, the Rhône, and the Po, start in the Alps.
CROSSING THE ALPS
For centuries, the Alps formed a barrier between northern and southern Europe. In the past, travel over the Alps was difficult, especially in winter. That’s because snow blocks many of the passes (routes) between the high peaks.
In recent times, people have built bridges across valleys and dug tunnels through the mountains. These include the Saint Gotthard Road Tunnel. At 10.1 miles (16.3 kilometers) long, it’s the world’s longest automobile tunnel. Today, you can cross the Alps all year round.
LIFE IN THE ALPS
Forests cover many of the foothills of the Alps. Between the woods are mountain meadows. Cattle of Swiss and Austrian farmers graze in these meadows in summer. When the first snows cover the pastures, the farmers bring their animals down to their villages for the winter.
The Alps attract many hikers and climbers in summer. Skiers and snowboarders flock to the Alps in winter. Lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of a wild goat, such as an alpine ibex or a chamois. These sure-footed animals live high on rocky slopes in the Alps.
Himalayas The name Himalaya means “home of snow” in the ancient language of Sanskrit. It’s a fitting name. The Himalayas are the highest mountains on Earth. Snow and ice cover much of this impressive mountain range year round.
WHERE ARE THE HIMALAYAS?
The Himalayas rise in southern Asia—the world’s biggest continent. They form a chain that stretches nearly 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers). The mountains separate the plains of northern India from the high plateau of Tibet, in China.
WORLD’S HIGHEST PEAKS
The Himalayas contain nine of the world’s ten highest peaks. One of these, Mount Everest, is the highest mountain on Earth. It rises to a height of 29,035 feet (8,850 meters).
The world’s second highest mountain, K2 (also called Mount Godwin Austen), also stands in the Himalayas. So does the world’s third highest peak, Mount Kanchenjunga. Other noted Himalayan peaks include Dhaulagiri, Nanga Parbat, and Annapurna 1.
The rugged Himalayas lure mountain climbers and tourists from around the world. The steep mountain slopes are very dangerous. Many climbers have died trying to reach the top of Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks.
The Himalayan range is made up of three mountain zones that run side by side. The highest zone is to the north. It’s called the Great Himalayas, and it holds many of the Himalayas’ tallest peaks, including Mount Everest.
The Himalayas form a great natural barrier. The high mountains are difficult to cross. There are few developed roads, and many trails are open only during summer months. Some parts of the range are up to 250 miles (400 kilometers) wide!
LIFE ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Several kinds of animals live or travel high on the mountains, where only shrubs and grasses grow. They include the snow leopard, which hunts wild goats, and the yak. A yak is a large, long-haired ox. Some Himalayan people keep yaks as pack animals and for their milk and meat.
According to ancient legend, a beast called the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti, lives high on the slopes of the Himalayas. But no proof of the creature’s existence has been found.
The lower slopes of the Himalayas are home to animals such as deer, wolves, and the Himalayan black bear. Tigers, leopards, rhinoceroses, and elephants once lived in the forested foothills. However, people have cut down many of the lowland forests for timber and farmland, and few of these large animals remain.
Most of the people who live in the Himalayas settle in high valleys. There they farm and graze animals. Some Himalayan people, such as the Sherpa of Nepal, serve as guides for mountaineers and tourists.