Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top 10 Dramatic Mountain Ranges of the World

There are amazing mountain ranges in the world, many of which you may never have heard of. These ranges are relatively young, therefore their peaks are sharp and dramatic. Take a look and see if you can learn something new about some of the world's dramatic mountain ranges.

1. Teton Range, USA

The Teton Range is part of the Rocky Mountains in the western United States. The highest summit in the Tetons is Grand Teton at 13,770 feet (4,198 m). There are four other peaks over 11,000 feet. The three central peaks pictured here were named 'Les Grande Tetons' or 'The Large Breasts' by lonely French trappers in the 1700's. The Tetons are the youngest part of the Rocky Mountains, therefore they retain their sharp features. Part of the reason for the fame of the Teton Range is that the mountains rise up dramatically 5,000 to 7,000 feet from the Snake River and the flat plain in front of them, with no foothills to moderate the change in elevation. Most of the Teton Range lies within the Grand Teton National Park.

2. Cordillera del Paine, Chile

The Cordillera del Paine is a small range in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The most famous section of the range is the photogenic Torres del Paine pictured here. The torres (towers) are granite monoliths formed by glacial ice. The peaks are about 8,000 feet in height.

3. Na Pali, Hawaii

The Na Pali Coast National Park is located on the north coast of the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. The dramatic cliffs (pali) rise 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above the Pacific Ocean. The only access to the cliffs is by the secluded 11-mile Kalalau Trail. The cliffs are a popular destination for photographers via helicopter and boat tours.

4. Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites are a mountain range in the southern Alps in Italy. The mountains are paler and more granular than the sharp granite of more northern ranges in the Alps. They are named for the type of rock, dolomite, a carbonate rock that makes them up. The highest peaks are in the 10,000 foot range. The mountains were the scene of fighting during both the First and Second World Wars. Today they are popular hiking and skiing destinations.

5. Tien Shan Mountains, China

The Tien Shan Mountains stretch 1700 miles (2,800 km) across central Asia from Uzbekistan to western China. The name means 'Celestial Mountains' in Chinese. The highest peak in the Tien Shan is Jengish Chokusu in Kyrgystan at over 24,000 feet (7,400 m). The mountain was only discovered in 1943 by a Soviet expedition. In Russian, the name is Victory Mountain. According to Daoism, the Tien Shan mountains are the home of the goddess of the west, who guards the peach trees of immortality there.

6. The Pennine Alps

The Pennine Alps are a mountain range in the western part of the Alps in Switzerland and Italy. The Pennine Alps include 15 peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (4,200 m) high. The most famous peak in the range is probably the Matterhorn. Although the Matterhorn is only the 11th-highest peak in the range at 14,693 feet, its dramatic cliffs have made it alluring to mountain climbers. Unfortunately, over 500 climbers have died attempting it. This picture shows the 8th and 10th highest peaks in the Pennine Alps, Dom and Taschhorn.

7. Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica

The Transantarctica Mountains are one of the longest mountain ranges on earth, stretching 3500 km from one end of the continent to the other. The highest peak in the range reaches 14,764 feet (4,599 m). The summits and dry valleys with the 100-300 km wideTransantarctic Range are the only places on the continet not covered by snow and ice. The arid and cold environment in the valleys in the interior of the range limits vegetation to lichens, algae and fungi.

8. Mansiri Himal Range, Nepal, Himalayas

The Mansiri Himal is a subrange of the Himalaya Moutains that lies about 100 km north of Kathmandu in Nepal. The highest peak, pictured here, is Manaslu. Its name is derived from Sanskrit and means "Mountain of the Spirit". Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain in the world at 26,759 feet and was first summited in 1956. The Mansiri Himal range contains the 8th, 18th and 20th highest peaks in the world.

9. Magdalenefjord, Spitsbergen, Norway

Magdalenefjord is located on the island of Spitsbergen off the northern coast of Norway. The island is so far north that the sun doesn't set from April to late August, then it doesn't rise above the horizon from October to February. Known for its scenic beauty with the surrounding rugged mountains, Magdalenefjord extends eight kilometers inland. During the 1600's it was a much-used anchorage for whaling ships. Today it is a popular Summer destination for cruise ships.

10. Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound has been named New Zealand's top tourist destination. It is a fjord surrounded by soaring mountains on New Zealand's South Island. Lush rainforests cling to sheer rock walls rising straight out of the sea, while majestic waterfalls fall hundreds of meters down to the water. Milford Sound is the main feature of Fjordland National Park.

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