Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Pinterest Icon Twitter Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video

All Peak

Not All Mountains Are Created Equal

Not All Mountains Are Created Equal

The recent eruptions in Hawaii with Mount Kilauea have a lot of people thinking about volcanoes lately and for good reason. Over 2,000 people are being evacuated in Hawaii and scientists are wondering if the rumblings under foot could be grander in scope.

Kilauea sits in the midst of the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped belt of volcanic activity that stretches over 25,000 miles in the Pacific basin. [i]Roughly 450 volcanoes are in the Ring of Fire comprising of 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.

If the Hawaii activity were a symptom of a systemic issue, folks in the Pacific Northwest are worried. There are 13 volcanoes on the West Coast including Mounts Rainier and Hood. We only have to look back to 1980 when Mount ST Helens tragically blew, killing dozens and spreading ash across much of the United States. [ii]

So far, that fear is allayed, as scientists have not detected any abnormal readings of increased volcanic activity on the West Coast. This gives any hiker pause when climbing a mountain that might be active. It’s like climbing a rickety ladder - you just don’t feel safe.

Many of the mountains we climb are in fact volcanic in origin. Of the 7 Summits, two are volcanic – Kilimanjaro (19,341’) in Africa and Elbrus (18,510’) in Russia.

(Kilimanjaro – –

Volcanoes fall into one of three statuses: Active, dormant and extinct. The later not having activity for over 10,000 years, so that’s comforting.

Now that you know about volcanic mountains, what are the other types of mountains? Not all mountains are created the equal. Each mountain and range has a different story. Pressure, type of strata (rock), erosion, volcanic forces all play a role. In addition to volcanic mountains, there are four other types: fold, fault-block, plateau and dome.

Fold mountains are the most common. They are caused when tectonic plates crash into each other. Huge amounts of pressure and friction create these huge monuments of our planet. They are the largest in size and form long ranges. The best examples are the Rocky Mountains and the Himalayas.

(Rocky Mountains –

Fault-block mountains are formed where a fault or crack pushes up rocks. On one side of the fault, the earth drops down sharply. On this side of the mountain, the sides are often sheer drops – fun for rock climbers. The Sierra Nevada range is a prime example.


(Sierra Nevadas –

Plateau mountains and dome mountains form with the help of mother nature (mainly rain) and billions of years of erosion. Plateau mountains are formed usually near fault-block mountains and have a flat top. The Catskills of New York and mountains in New Zealand are plateau mountains.


(Matiri Range, New Zealand –

Dome mountains like plateau mountains are formed by magma pushing up. However unlike plateau mountains, the magma dome is what is seen, not the rock above it as in a plateau. Over billions of years, erosion wears away around the base of the dome. The Adirondacks of New York are dome mountains. [iii]


(Algonquin Peak, Adirondacks –

Although most mountains that are in danger of exploding anytime soon will have clearly posted warnings, it’s good to know the differences on how one mountain was formed versus the next one. It gives you a better appreciation when you are standing on top.






Continue reading

What To Do When Plans Go Sideways

What To Do When Plans Go Sideways

You just go sideways with them.

The original plan of action was to conquer three summits. We ended up conquering one- and having to stay low at our campground because storm clouds engulfed the top of one of our choices, and the campground shook with thunder.

We set up camp at Aster Lake Campground in Kananaskis Country, and watched as the storm rolled in. Mixed rain and snow and even some light hail was falling. From the lake, we caught a glimpse of our objective, smothered in clouds. It didn’t take us long to shrug, grin, and set up a nice spot by the lake to make tea and sketch pictures of mountains. The disappointment at not being able to do the two summits we intended to did not last. After all, we were out in the wilderness- at least a 5 hour hike away from anything as civilized as a parking lot- and we were happy.

It’s all the little things that matter when peak bagging- or for that matter, failing to bag peaks. Not to sound cliche, but it really is about the journey. It’s about the smell of the woods after it pours, or the smell of a match to light your propane stove. The taste of peppermint tea next to a stormy lake, and the thrill of a piece of chocolate after a long hike. This is why people come to the mountains. This is why people love being outside so much. You remember the little things that you take for granted, and you bask in the raw happiness, the stark simplicity.

The next day, the storm had cleared, but smoke from the nearby wildfires had started to drift in. Nevertheless, we were able to do the third summit we set out to do. The ridge on the summit to Mt. Sarrail was long and pleasantly challenging. The top was in sight the whole time, and we pushed to the top slowly, enjoying breaks to admire the views. We were grateful for the opportunity to push our bodies to the limits, and to enjoy the freedom that comes with being high in the mountains.

When plans go sideways, you just have to turn yourself 90 degrees, and go with the flow. Take the opportunities that come to you. Discard the plans that don’t work out. Soak up the sunrises, the storms, the summits, and the victories. Enjoy the journey and forget about the numbers. This is what it’s all about.

A ridge on Mt. Sarrail; a peak in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country. (Alberta, Canada).

Kate Hurley is the content creator at Prone to Wandering, a blog about living an outdoor adventure lifestyle. She lives in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. You can check out more of her posts at

Continue reading