An ultra-prominent peak, or Ultra for short, is defined as a mountain summit with a topographic prominence of 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) or more. There are approximately 1,515 such peaks on Earth. Some are famous even to non-climbers, such as Mount Everest, Aconcagua, and Mount McKinley (the top three by prominence), while others are much more obscure. Some famous peaks, such as the Matterhorn and Eiger, are not Ultras because they are connected to higher mountains by high cols and therefore do not achieve enough topographic prominence.
The term "Ultra" is due to earth scientist Stephen Fry, from his studies of the prominence of peaks in Washington in the 1980s. His original term was "ultra major mountain", referring to peaks with at least 5,000 ft (1,524 m) of prominence.
Currently, 1,515 Ultras have been identified worldwide: 637 in Asia, 355 in North America, 209 in South America, 119 in Europe (including the Caucasus), 84 in Africa, 69 in Australasia and 39 in Antarctica.
Many of the world's largest or best-known mountains are Ultras, including Mount Everest, K2, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, and Mount Olympus. On the other hand, many large and famous mountains such as the Eiger and the Matterhorn are not Ultras because they do not have sufficient prominence. Many Ultras lie in rarely visited and inhospitable parts of the world, including 39 in Greenland, the high points of the Arctic islands of Novaya Zemlya, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen, and 136 in High Asia. In British Columbia, some of the mountains listed do not even have generally recognized names.
A number of Ultras have yet to be climbed, with Sauyr Zhotasy, (possibly) Mount Siple, and Gangkar Puensum being the most likely candidates for the most prominent unclimbed mountain in the world.
All of the Seven Summits are Ultras by virtue of the fact that they are the high points of large landmasses. Each has its key col at or near sea level, resulting in a prominence value almost equal to its elevation.
Lists of Ultras (1515)
- List of peaks by prominence gives the 125 most prominent peaks worldwide.
- List of islands by highest point gives the 75 highest island highpoints, all of which are Ultras
- List of Alpine peaks by prominence (44)
- List of non-Alpine European Ultras, including Atlantic islands and the Caucasus (75)
- List of Ultras in West Asia (88)
- List of Ultras in Central Asia (75)
- List of Ultras in the Western Himalayas (80)
- List of Ultras in the Eastern Himalayas, including Sino-Nepal Provinces (57)
- List of Ultras of Tibet, East Asia and neighbouring areas (112)
- List of Ultras in Northeast Asia (53)
- List of Ultras in Japan (21)
- List of Ultras in Southeast Asia (42)
- List of Ultras in the Philippines (29)
- List of Ultras of Malay Archipelago (92 including 12 in Oceania (Papua))
- List of Ultras in Oceania, including the Southern Indian Ocean (69)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of Australia (2)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of Indonesian New Guinea (12)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of New Zealand (10)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of Papua New Guinea (31)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of the Hawaiian Islands (6)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of the Pacific Islands (6)
- List of ultra-prominent summits of the Southern Indian Ocean (2)
- List of Ultras in Antarctica, including South Atlantic islands (41)
North America (355)
- List of Ultras in North America (355)
- List of Ultras in Canada (142 including 6 bordering the United States)
- List of Ultras in the United States (129 including 6 in Oceania (Hawaiian Islands) and 6 bordering Canada)
- List of Ultras in Greenland (39)
- List of Ultras in Mexico (27)
- List of Ultras in Central America (22)
- List of Ultras in the Caribbean (7)
South America (209)