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ImageIt is a lot harder to climb a mountain than to hike across a plain. You might need special shoes to help your feet grip the ground on a mountain or ropes to help pull you up in steep places. A plain is flat. A mountain rises up high above the ground.


You would have a longer climb to the top of a mountain than to the top of a hill. Mountains are higher than hills. The tallest mountain in the world is Mount Everest between Nepal and Tibet.

The top of Mount Everest is 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above the level of the sea. That’s more than five miles high!

Most hills are rounded. A mountain comes to a peak at the top. A mountain looks a little like a pyramid. A mountain has a wide base, or bottom, and a narrow top.

Some mountains stand by themselves. Most mountains are in groups called ranges. Mount Everest is in a range called the Himalayas. The Rockies and the Appalachians are mountain ranges in North America. Low places between mountains in a range are called valleys.


Geologists (scientists who study the Earth) think that some mountains come from movements in Earth’s crust. The crust is the rocky outside layer of Earth. Geologists think that Earth’s crust is made up of gigantic pieces called plates that move around very slowly.

Sometimes the moving plates crunch together. The edges of the crunching plates wrinkle up to make mountains. Plates crunching together and wrinkling up made the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains.

Sometimes one side of a plate lifts up like a big block of rock. You can see these kinds of mountains in the southwestern United States.

Some mountains form when hot, melted rock oozes up from deep inside Earth. The melted rock is called magma. Mountains made from magma are volcanoes. Magma that comes out of the top of a volcano is called lava. Lava cools, turns solid, and builds up to make the hard rock that forms a mountain. Mount Rainier near Seattle, Washington, is a volcano.

Some mountains are carved out by erosion. Wind and water wear away soil and soft rock. The hard rock stays and becomes mountains. The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and Missouri were made by erosion.

Source: Microsoft ® Encarta