In the first chapter of At The Mountains of Madness I read

the peak of Mt. Nansen in the eastern distance, towering up to its height of almost fifteen thousand feet.

Isn't that height plainly exaggerated?

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    There are other elements in this story that are also marginally fantastical
    – Valorum
    Nov 28, 2020 at 17:58
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    I expected the fantastic part not to change what has already been given a name in reality 🤣
    – Enlico
    Nov 28, 2020 at 18:00
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    This range of mountains also contains individual peaks that are higher than Everest by 6000 feet. Since this story is set in a fictionalised version of our reality, there's no good reason that a specific mountain should be the same height as it is in real life.
    – Valorum
    Nov 28, 2020 at 18:04
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    @Enrico - if you havent seen them already check out the new illustrated versions of 'The Call of Cthulhu' and 'At the Mountains of Madness' illustrated by François Baranger = awesome!!
    – wcullen
    Nov 28, 2020 at 23:07
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    @Enrico: both I linked are the English language versions. The French come out prior.
    – wcullen
    Nov 29, 2020 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


It is believed he is referring to Mount Fridtjof Nansen in the Antarctica (13,350ft).

This is noted in The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie Klinger--see footnote #23

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    It might surprise you to learn that in 1931, not every mountain in Antarctica was known, and even of the known peaks, their correct heights were not necessarily well known and the best estimates were not always correct. This left a lot of room for authors to choose among different guesses, or just add their own. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:17
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    Long story short, it’s very likely that Lovecraft just got the two Mt. Nansens mixed up, used currently available inaccurate estimates of its height, and for the “taller than Everest” peaks, just used his own speculations about as yet unknown or unmeasured mountains in Antarctica. No retconning necessary. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:25
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    @Valorum That doesn’t seem likely at all. For one thing Mt. Nansen had even less recognition value in 1931 than it does today. For another, much of Antarctica was unexplored and even more unknown to the general public, so of necessity, any story set in Antarctica had to invent some geography. Postulating retconning just doesn’t pass Occam’s Razor. Nov 29, 2020 at 16:05
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    @Valorum Your reasoning is fallacious because you continue to assume the Lovecraft had the same information that we have today, which has no basis and is contradicted by history. Nov 29, 2020 at 16:39
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    Interestingly, Amundsen originally estimated it as around 15,000 feet, so Lovecraft was probably quoting an up-to-date figure here. It probably wouldn't have been resurveyed until the 1940s/50s. Nov 29, 2020 at 16:47

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