Bigger Send than Everest: Olympus Mons

Before I ever got into climbing in middle school in the 1990s, I knew the answer to a great trivia question: What is the name of a mountain bigger than Mount Everest?  The answer is Olympus Mons.  It is a sheild volcano with a broad, elevated caldera on the planet Mars.  It is approximately three times the ascent (measured from base to summit) of Everest, standing 27 km./17 mi. above Mars’ mean surface level.

What would be the challenge of sending such a peak?  Other than getting to Mars, the climber would be facing a myriad of different challenges.  For one, from base to summit, the mountain climber would be in a space pressure suit, dependent on that environment.  If the suit was suitable for the climb, it might make the ascent as easy as climbing a small peak in the thick air of sea level.  Would several days and camps be necessary?  Probably not.  One reason this mountain is so high is because Mars’ gravity is much less than earth’s.  Gravity keeps many of earth’s mountains more compressed and thereby closer to sea level.

Weather, however, would be a problem.  Mars commonly has numerous dust storms that may make climbing difficult.  It might be possible for the climber to bring a bivy shelter (not exactly a tent) to use as added protection from the winds and debris of a storm.  The bivy would probably be anchored into the side of the peak.

Here is an article that was published late last week on other peaks in the Solar System if you’re looking for more possibilities.

Well, I’ll cover a peak that we can actually go to in my next few posts.  And if you enjoyed this post, please consider following The Suburban Mountaineer on Twitter and Facebook.


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