High and Mighty: Mountains of Asia

By its own nature
it towers over
the tangle of rivers.
Don’t say
it’s a lot of dirt
piled high.
Without end the mist of dawn
the evening cloud
draw their shadows across it.
From the four directions
you can look up and see it,
green and steep and wild.

~ ‘Magnificent Peak’ by Muso Soseki (1275 – 1351)

Mountains appear and reappear in our imaginations. We immortalize them in our art, our literature and through the lens of our cameras. Perhaps, it is their sheer heft that give them their sacred aura. We gaze upon them and for a moment, we lose ourselves; the man-made things of the world recedes, and in that few moments, we and the mountains become one. Today’s post features some of the highest peaks in Asia, and indeed the world, their towering heights and raw beauty reminding us that mountains here and everywhere maintain that presence that suggests eternity.


Photo: Michael Yamashita

Mount Fuji’s graceful and perfect tapered conical shape makes it an instantly recognisable symbol of Japan. Known as the sacred home of the kami or gods, Fuji is a natural work of art that has inspired countless human endeavours to immortalize it in art, poetry, and photography.

Photo: Michael Yamashita


Wulingyuan Mountains

Wulingyuan is a scenic and historical site in the Wulingyuan District of China’s south-central Hunan Province. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, and is noted for more than 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks across most of the site, many over 200 metres (660 ft) in height, along with many ravines and gorges with picturesque streams, pools, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. The area is shrouded much of the time in the mist, making the landscape appear like straight out of a classical landscape painting.

Huangshan (“Yellow Mountain”)

Mount Huangshan in east China’s Anhui Province is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It literally means “Yellow Mountain” in Chinese. For more than a thousand years, this sacred peak was a magnet for hermits, poets and landscape artists, fascinated by its dramatic mountainous landscape consisting of numerous granitic peaks, many over 1,000 m high that emerge through a perpetual sea of clouds.  Watch the beauty of these peculiarly shaped peaks in this time-lapse video:

Karakul Mountain Lake

Karakul lake is located 196 km southwest of famous Silk Road town of Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. The lake is situated at an altitude of 3,600m, making it the highest lake in the Pamir plateau. It is accessible by the well-paved Karakoram Highway that links China to Pakistan, and is worth a stopover not only for the lake’s uncanny moon-like landscape but also breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, all of which remain snow-covered throughout the year due to their high elevations of over 7,000m.

Kyrgyz tents (yurts) on the plains around Karakul Lake near the border of Xinjiang and Tajikistan.

Muztagh Ata Peak

The Muztagh Ata Peak (meaning “Father of Ice Mountain” in Turkish) is situated in north-west China at the border between the Pamirs and China’s Kunlun mountain range. The western mountainside gently slopes down and turns into a flat plain known as the Subashi “glade” that crosses from north to south by the Karakoram highway from which the traveller can get a spectacular view of Mount Muztagh from a distance of no more than 10 km. Although Muztagh at 7546m is one of the highest peaks in the world, it is accessible to mountain climbers due to its gentle slopes and the regions’ relatively calm weather.

Kawagebo Peak

Some of the world’s highest peaks – all above 8,000m – have been conquered. But not the Kawagebo peak (6,740m, 22,113 feet). This is a mountain that wants to be left alone. Located at the border of Yunnan Province in China and Tibet where three famous rivers (the Jinsha, Mekong and Salwen meet), Kawawebo is one of the most sacred mountains in Tibetan-Buddhism. Since 1902, many mountaineers from all over the world have tried to reach its summit. None succeeded.

K2 (Karakoram Range)

K2 (also known as Mount Goodwin-Austen) is located on the Xinjiang-Pakistan border at the highest point of the Karakoram range. At 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), it is the second highest mountain in the world and one of the most difficult to ascent, earning it the nickname, The Savage Mountain.

Location of K2, the world’s second highest peak.


No matter how many times you’ve seen pictures of Everest, this giant of a mountain always has some surprises up its sleeves. Here, a team of mountaineers are exploring a new route to the top. The last photo is stitched from sixteen photos during a sunset over the Himalaya.

Fading pink light at dusk illuminating the world’s tallest peak.

Below Mount Everest lies giant ice sculptures tower as high as 150 feet (46 meters). This incredible view is experienced near Interim Camp (19,000 feet/5,791 meters), the midway point between Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp. This area is known as Miracle Highway, a place where the East Rongbuk Glacier has created an upheaval of rock, dirt, and ice, placing the climber at dead center between jagged ice sculptures on all sides. The following video captures this surreal landscape.


Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, there’s the surreal spectacle of the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in remote western Mongolia at the border northern China and Russia. The park is home to the towering, jagged Tavan Bogd mountains, the highest of which is Khüiten Peak at 4370m or 14,300 feet. Nearby is the massive Potanin Glacier, which is Mongolia’s longest glacier. The glacier stretches 14km, descending to an elevation of 2,900metres with huge moraines (large rocks and sediments) surrounding its base.

Watch: A giant hole in a Tavan Boyd glacier (credit: Erdenebulgan Battsengel)

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