Purple Mountains Majesty

by Bernie Keating

• Punching up Wikipedia since 1885 •

A MOUNTAIN IS A LARGE form that stretches above the surrounding land, majestically and sometimes arrogantly, in the form of a peak or an over-sized "molehill."

A mountain is steeper than a hill so don't even start with that. "Montane" is the adjective used to describe things associated with mountains — i.e., terrain, plateaus, brokeback, Dew, or goatherds lonely or otherwise. (Exception: Guy "Montane" and His Merry Band of Rascals.)

There is no universally accepted definition of a mountain. Those submitted last year were blah at best and quite frankly it seemed as though no one was taking it seriously. So we just gave up.

Whether a land form is called a mountain may depend on usage among the local people. The highest point in San Francisco is Mount Davidson and its life partner Mount Kyle. Notwithstanding its height of 300m (980 ft., American), which makes it fall ten feet short of the minimum for a mountain in American appellation — the inspiration for the moving American classic "Appellation Spring."

Similarly, Mount Scott outside Lawton, Oklahoma is only 251m (251m, Canadian) from its base to its snood. Mount Scott hopes to move to San Francisco some day.

Classified by the geological processes (processi?) that shape them, there are five major types of mountains:

Fold mountains are mountains of the origami variety and are the most common type of mountains. Common meaning spitting, swearing, playing The Feud and the like.

As the name suggests, fault-block mountains or fault mountains are formed when blocks of rock materials slide along faults in the Earth's crust. Did everyone do a shot each time they read the word "fault" or "block"?

There are two types of block mountains, namely the lifted (or "tummy tucked") and tilted (or "a wee bit tipsy"). But that won't be on the test.

Volcanic mountains are formed when magma (the rock not the malt liquor) piles up on the surface of the Earth like Nature's little drunken rugby players. (Okay, maybe it is the malt liquor.)

Mount Fuji claims to be a volcanic mountain but frankly that smells a little fuji to us.

The best example of a dome mountain is the Navajo Mountain in Utah. The worst example of a dome mountain is Space Mountain in Disneyland.

They are called dome mountains due to their appearance, which resembles a dome. And a roaring "Well, der . . ." rises up from the mountain science community . . . .

An example of a plateau mountain is the Catskill Mountains — the only mountains that has a two drink minimum. Plateau mountains form because of erosion and are therefore considered pseudo mountains (or more specifically, "not mountains").

Which brings us to our absolute favorite actual Internet list of this season.


  • Hills. I believe we’ve made our position on this more than clear.
  • Subsidiary Peaks. More commonly considered a part of the meringue family.
  • Escarpments. Really? Sez who? Oh wait, here it is . . . . They’re not. Jeez, it's like I just slept through every one of my escarpment classes.
  • Sea Cliffs. While technically not a mountain, it is a rather darling bed and breakfast. Order the golden brioche. Pure poetry.
  • Canyons. Come on, seriously?
  • Mountain Passes and the Rockies intercept the pass! He's at the twenty! The ten!

This is by no means a complete list. So we decided to compile the definitive "Things That Are Not A Mountain" list. However, when the sun was coming up and we noticed we had put "toaster" on the list, we realized we were completely wasting our time.

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