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World’s Tallest Mountain “Climbed” For First Time

The world's tallest mountain is in Hawaii and starts far below the surface of the ocean

The tallest mountain isn’t Mount Everest, which is the highest, it’s actually Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Everest is 8,848 metres from base to summit while Mauna Kea comes in at 10,211 metres.

Two people, a Texas investor known for big adventures and a Hawaiian scientist, have become the first to fully ascend Mauna Kea. The base of the peak starts six kilometres below sea level. Victor Vescovo and marine scientist Cliff Kapono earned a Guinness World Record for their “climb” of the world’s tallest mountain.

“It was a three-day event involving submarine, kayak, bicycling and just plain old hiking and climbing,” Vescovo told CBC‘s As It Happens guest host Dave Seglins. “I think it’s only human to try and push boundaries and do things that no one’s ever done before.”

Vescovo has also climbed Everest, back in 2012, which makes him the first person to visit Earth’s highest and lowest points. The top of Mauna Kea is more than a kilometre taller than Everest when comparing the two from base to summit.

Mauna Kea is an esteemed, sacred site within Hawaiian culture. It is believed to be the home of deities (Na Akua), and it’s said its summit is where the Earth Mother (Papa) meets the Sky Father (Wakea).

Given its spiritual significance, Vescovo wanted to undertake the climb with a local scientist. “As I have undertaken more than a few scientific expeditions around the world, I have learned that it is very important to involve the local scientific community in what we are doing. These places are, after all, parts of their home – not mine. Not only is it courteous, but they can bring a perspective to the mission and the science that we might miss ourselves.”

Vescovo said the kayaking was one of the most challenging parts of the expedition: “I found the kayaking the most challenging because I have never kayaked – even remotely – such a long distance. I trained as hard as I could for this particular segment, and there were two other expert rowers with me as we did the 27 miles to shore, but goodness, that was a long and tough haul. The weather and waves didn’t really help us either – so it was a slog.”

Mauna Kea Ascent