Mt Fuji. (NNE / Wikimedia Commons)
Q: What do Quixada, Fuji, Hood, and Seorak have in common?
A: They are all "famous" mountains.
The organizations that steward these and 22 other peaks, gathered earlier this month share information on sustainable tourism, natural resource protection, and mountain culture, at the World Famous Mountains Conference in Portland, OR.
Which begs the question: just what is a "famous" mountain, anyway?
Arguably, the most "famous" mountains in the world are the "Seven Summits," the highest peaks on each continent. Of those seven—Everest , Aconcagua, Mount McKinley, Elbrus, Vinson Massif, Puncak Jaya, and Kilimanjaro—only Kilimanjaro is represented at the conference.
Though the conference includes some "A-list" mountains like Mt. Fuji, Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier, it's refreshing to see that the the bulk of attendees represent more obscure peaks — Guaramiranga, Kanawinka, Gaina, and others.
What defines a "famous" mountain has always seemed capricious and random to me. In New Hampshire, Mt. Washington is mobbed, while just next door, Mt. Pierce is lonely. Mt. Washington is known for being the highest mountain in the Northeast, with the "worst weather in the world," but are these good criteria for fame? Everest is often (though not always) credited as being the world's highest. I've never been to the Himalaya, but I'm told that some peaks in the region that are unknown, unnamed, and certainly not "famous" are more technically and aesthetically pleasing to climb.
There aren't any objective criteria that define "famous mountains." As with famous people, at some point consensus takes over and we just agree that Mt. Fuji is famous and Steens Mountain isn't. In the same way, our collective consciousness decided that Paris Hilton had it, and Kathy Griffen didn't.
Thanks to the Famous Mountains Conference, my concept of a "famous mountain" is expanded. I've just learned about some "famous" mountains I've never heard of, and look forward to visiting:
Chocolate Hills. (Ramir Borja / Wikimedia Commons)
Height: 98-390 ft
Description: A collection of nearly 1,776 individual grassy limestone hills. The grass dries to a chocolate brown.
Mt. Lushan. (Pfctdayelise / Wikimedia Commons)
Mountain: Mount Lushan
Height: Dahanyang Peak: 1,474 m
Description: This cloud-shrouded range hosts some of China's oldest Buddhist temples.
Mt. Seorak. (Flowerguy / Wikimedia Commons)
Mountain: Seorak Mountain
Location: South Korea
Height: Daechongbong Peak: 5,603 feet
Description: The third highest peak in South Korea, Seorak is the highest peak in the Taebaek mountain range.
For more information about these and the other "famous" mountains, check out the list on the World Famous Mountains Association web site. Which famous mountains, obscure or not, pique your interest?