When I was browsing through the wikipedia page of the Denali mountain, I came across some piece of information.

Refer the screenshot below.

enter image description here

What does the term Prominence and Isolation mean?

  • 7
    Prominence and Isolation are links in the above screenshot. They're also purple, so you probably clicked them...
    – Nick T
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 19:01
  • 3
    @NickT: Yes I did, on my Cellphone, Reading it that way didn't make much a sense (as I was travelling). And, I strongly believe wikipedia is not always the best way to get your answers. Thats why we have forums like this one
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 4:16
  • 3
    @NickT What's the point here? I often ask questions here when I know an answer or some kind of answer. Still we want to get better answers and more infos on the topic collected in one thread. Also it helps other people and I like the idea to have a good knowledge base here. Really I don't get your point in trying to catch someone in something ...
    – Wills
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 5:34
  • 2
    @NickT It's even OK to ask a question and later answer it by yourself...
    – Wills
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 5:45
  • 2
    @NickT: Welcome to The Great Outdoors, by the way. You'll find plenty of question which could easily be answered if the person who asked (usually, we call OP) does a google search or read the wiki page. But then, here you get additional information through discussions, or even sometimes cross-points. Thats the beauty of this forum.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 5:57

2 Answers 2


Isolation and prominence are the two key criteria to classify a peak as an independent mountain.

To understand the meaning I like the visualization from the German Wiki where

  • "Dominanz" means isolation and
  • "Schartenhöhe" means prominence:

enter image description here

Isolation is the distance to the next point with the same height (radius) of a higher mountain. So the nearest higher mountain seen from B is A, see the distance marked as "Dominanz".

Prominence is the difference from the peak to the next key col to which you have to descend at least to be able to reach a higher peak. So from summit B you have to descend at least to the col between B-C, therefore the marked "Schartenhöhe". The col between B-B' is not relevant because B is the higher peak.

  • 1
    Great. Looks perfect, as always, Everything Right Place!
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 6:03
  • 1
    @WedaPashi Thx and LOL :)
    – Wills
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 6:11
  • The col between B-B' is somewhat relevant - you'd measure the prominence of B' from that one.
    – Peteris
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 17:22


Is it's height above the surrounding ground (so the ground level is x height above sea level, the mounting is y height above sea level, it's Prominence = y -x)


Is the distance between it and the nearest point at the same height.

This is all based on the "footprint" on a map of a peak. This can be straight forward, or it can be very complicated.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.