Acclimate - To allow one's body to adjust to a new temperature, altitude, climate, or environment.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) - An illness that may affect people who climb above an elevation of 8,000 feet too quickly. Symptoms include loss of appetite, impaired judgement, nausea, vomiting, headache, shortness of breath, exhaustion, insomnia, and dizziness. Also known as altitude sickness.

Adaptation  - The adjustment of an organism in response to changing environmental conditions in order to become more fit for survival.

Alluvium - Clay, silt, sand, or gravel deposited by running water.

Alpaca - A mammal related to the llama with long wool that is used to make cloth.

Alpine - Anything related to the high mountains.

Altimeter - An instrument that measures your elevation or height above sea level.

Altitude - Height above sea level.

Altitude sickness - An illness that may affect people who climb above an elevation of 8,000 feet too quickly. Symptoms include loss of appetite, impaired judgement, nausea, vomiting, headache, shortness of breath, exhaustion, insomnia, and dizziness. Also known as Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS.

Andes - The longest mountain range in the world, located in South America.

Annual - A plant whose life cycle is completed during one growing season.

Anthropologist - A scientist who studies the customs and cultures of people.

Anthropology - The study of the customs and cultures of people.

Appalachians - The oldest mountain range in the world, located on the east coast of North America.

Archeology - The study of ancient people through the excavation of material remains from ruins.

Artifact - An object made by people.

Ascend - To climb.

Atmospheric pressure - The force exerted by the weight of air. This force, which decreases with altitude, determines how much air enters the lungs with each breath.

Avalanche - The rapid movement of ice or snow down a mountain.


Base - The lowest point on a mountain.

Biodiversity - Short for biological diversity, the variety of life on earth.

Blizzard - A long-lasting severe snowstorm with high wind.

Botanist - A scientist who studies plant life.

Buddhism - A religion of eastern and central Asia.

Bulbil - A small underground stem with fleshy leaves.


Canopy - The branches that make up the tallest layer of a forest.

Cerebral edema - A medical condition where water accumulates in the spaces of the brain causing swelling.

Chalcedony - A pale blue or gray stone with a wax-like appearance used by Native Americans to make spear points.

Classification - To arrange something, such as plants, into groups or categories.

Climate - How weather behaves over many years.

Coniferous - A term used to describe trees or shrubs that have seed-bearing cones.

Conservation - To protect something, such as a piece of land, from being damaged or destroyed.

Continent - Any large land mass on earth.

Continental plate - A plate that lies below a continent. Also known as a lithospheric plate.

Contour interval - The distance in elevation between two adjacent contour lines.

Contour line - An imaginary line that connects points of land with the same elevation.

Convergent plate boundary - The location where two plates move toward one another and eventually collide.

Core - The central portion of the earth below the mantle, beginning at a depth of approximately 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) and consisting of iron and nickel. It is made up of a liquid outer core and a solid inner core.

Crevasse - A deep crack in the surface of a glacier.

Crust - The thin rock shell that makes up the outer surface of the earth.

Cultural diversity - The variety of civilizations in a region.

Culture - The civilization of a group of people or time period.


Dam - A barrier built across a river to hold back water.

Deforestation - The large-scale cutting or burning of forest trees for timber or to clear land for farming.

Degrade - To lower in quality.

Dicot -A flowering plant whose seed contains an embryo with two seed leaves, or cotyledons. Also known as a dicotyledon.

Divergent plate boundary - The location where two tectonic plates move away from one another.

Diversity - Variety.


Earthquake - The shaking of the earth's crust caused by a volcano or the movement of plates.

EcoystemT - he interaction between a community of plants, animals, and other living organisms and its physical environment.

Ecotourism - Ecologically-sound use of the natural world for recreational purposes.

Edible - Suitable for eating.

Elevation - The height above sea level (in feet or meters) at any given location.

Environmentalist - A person who works to protect the natural world by solving environmental problems.

Epidermis - The outer layer of protective tissue that covers the entire plant body.

Erosion - The wearing away of the earth's surface by wind, water, or ice.

Erratic - A single large rock or boulder carried from its source by a glacier and left behind when the ice melted.

Eruption - The explosion of lava through a crack in the earth's crust.

Ethnobotany - The study of the relationship between plants and people.

Expedition - A journey often taken for the purposes of exploration.

Expert - A person who is very knowledgeable on a particular subject.

ExploitationT - he use or working of a natural resource at the expense of the natural world.


Fauna - The animals of a given time, place, or environment.

Flora - The plants of a given time, place, or environment.

Fodder - Food for animals.

Frostbite - The freezing, and resulting injury, of parts of the human body when exposed to extremely cold temperatures.


Geographer - A scientist who studies the earth and its features and the distribution of life on earth, including human life and the effects of human activity.

Geographic divide - A mountain range that separates lowlands from uplands, serving as a barrier to the movement of people.

Geography - The study of the earth and its features and the distribution of life on earth, including human life and the effects of human activity.

Geologist - A scientist who studies the origin, history, and structure of the earth.

Geology - The scientific study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth.

Germinate - The sprouting of a seed marking the beginning of a plant's life.

Glacier - A river of ice that slowly moves down a mountainside.

Global - Something related to or affecting the the whole world.

Global warming - The increase in the temperature of the lower atmosphere over time caused by the trapping of greenhouse gases.

Goral - A grayish-brown goat antelope with thick shaggy wool and pointed horns that lives in the mountains of the Himalayas.

Granodiorite - An igneous rock intermediate between granite and quartz-containing diorite.

Grazing - When an animal feeds on growing grass.


Habitat - The natural living place of a plant or animal.

Herbaceous plant - A nonwoody plant.

Herbivore - An animal that feeds on plant life.

Himalayas - The tallest mountain range in the world, located in Asia.

Historian - A person who studies significant events that happened in the past.

Holistic - A treatment that involves the whole body.

Hummock - A low mound or ridge of earth.

Hydroelectricity - Electricity generated by water power.

Hydrology - The study of the properties, distribution, and circulation of water.

Hypothermia - An abnormally low body temperature resulting from exposure to extreme cold.


Imperial System of Units - A standard unit of measure used in the United States, originating from the British series of weights and measures.

Incas - Quechuan people of highland Peru who established an empire from northern Ecuador to central Chile before the Spanish conquest.

Inhabit - To live in.

Insomnia - The inability to sleep.

International System of Units (SI) - A standard unit of measure based on the meter used in most countries of the world. Also known as the metric system.

Invasive plant - A non-native plant with the tendency to enter a new area and become dominant by outcompeting other plants.

Irrigation - The watering of crops through the use of artificial means, such as canals or sprinklers.

Itinerary - A route or plan for a journey that lists places to be visited and lengths of stay.


Kilometer - A metric unit of measure for distance. Equivalent to 0.62 miles.

Kinetic energy - The energy of motion.


Landscape - The natural scenery of a place.

Landslide - Downslope movement of rock, soil, and mud.

Latitude - The location of a place north or south of the equator, measured in degrees.

Life zone - A section of a mountainside differentiated by its climate, with its own characteristic plants and animals.

Lithosphere - The solid rock that makes up the outer part of the earth, approximately 50 miles in thickness.

Lithospheric plate - A plate that lies below a continent. Also known as a continental plate.

Llama - A South American animal related to the camel that is used for wool and transportation of materials.

Logistics - The details surrounding the organization of supplies and services.

Longitude - The location of a place east or west of the prime meridian, or 0 degrees longitude.

Lowland - Any land that is lower than the land surrounding it.


Malnutrition - A diet lacking in sufficient nutrition.

Mantle - The thick shell that surrounds the earth's core just beneath the crust.

Medicinal plant - A plant that is used to treat or prevent disease.

Microclimate - The uniform climate of a relatively small site or habitat.

Mining - The work associated with removing raw materials, such as coal, from a mine.

Modern technology - Technology developed in recent times.

Molten rock - Rock from the center of the earth that has been melted by heat. Also known as lava or magma.

Monsoon - Seasonal heavy wind and rain in Asia.

Monocot - A flowering plant whose seed contains an embryo with one seed leaf, or cotyledon. Also known as a monocotyledon.

Moraine - A mound of soil, gravel, and rocks carried by a glacier and left behind when the ice melts.

Mountain - A landmass that rises high above the surface of the earth.

Mountain range - Mountains that lie close to one another in groups or long lines.

Mummy - An unusually well-preserved ancient body, such as the Ice Maiden.

Muslin - A thin cotton cloth.


Native plant - A plant that originated in the region in which it is naturally growing.

Nival zone - The section at the peak of a mountain that is always covered in ice or snow.

Non-native plant - A plant that is growing outside the region in which it originated.

Non-timber Forest Product (NTFP) - A biological material collected from the forest that is not lumber, timber, or fuelwood.


Oceanic plate - A plate that lies below the ocean.

Oxygen deprivation - When oxygen is not being delivered to part or all of the body, as can occur at high altitudes.


Pangaea - The single continent that existed approximately 200 million years ago before plate tectonics separated the earth's crust into today's arrangement of continental and oceanic plates.

Pasture - A plot of grassy land used for grazing cattle.

Peak - The highest point on a mountain.

Perennial - A plant that lives for at least two years.

Petiole - The part of a leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem of a plant.

Plains - A large area of flat, and sometimes treeless, land.

Plant kingdom - The broad classification group of natural objects that contains all plants.

Plains - A large area of flat, and sometimes treeless, land.

Plant kingdom - The broad classification group of natural objects that contains all plants.

Plate - A massive slab of the earth's crust that moves very slowly over the molten rock beneath it.

Plateau - An area of level but high land in a mountainous region.

Plate tectonics - The theory that the earth's crust is divided into several plates that move.

Pollen - The powderlike sex cells produced by the male reproductive organ of flowering plants for the purposes of fertilization.

Pollination - The transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organ of one flower to the female reproductive organ of another flower.

Pollution - When something has been made impure, usually by humans.

Population - The total number of occupants in a given area.

Precipitation - Any moisture in the form of rain, sleet, hail, mist, or snow that falls to the surface of the earth from the atmosphere.

Primate - Any member of the order of animals that contains those having hands and feet with five digits, such as humans, apes, and monkeys.

Pulmonary edema - A medical condition where water accumulates in the lungs usually because the heart has stopped pumping properly.


Rainforest - A thick, wet, evergreen forest found in rainy tropical areas.

Rain shadow - The dry area on the side of a mountain range opposite the side that receives the most rainfall.

Religion - The belief in and worship of a God or gods.

Reservoir - A natural or manmade lake that is used to store water for later use by people.

Rhizome - An underground stem that grows horizontally at or just below the soil surface.

Ridge - The narrow meeting line of two upward slopes.

Rosette - A cluster of leaves, usually from a perennial plant, growing close to the ground.


Sacred - Something that is highly valued because it is attached to a God or gods.

Sacrifice - A religious act in which a life is taken and offered as a gift to the gods.

Scavenger - An animal that feeds on decaying matter, such as flesh.

Scree - A collection of loose stones or small rocks on a mountain slope or the base of a hill.

Serow - A long-haired goat from Asia.

Sherpa - A person from a Buddhist tribe in Nepal who may work as a porter for mountaineering expeditions.

Slash-and-burn - The cutting and burning of large tracts of forest to create land that can be used for other purposes, such as farming.

Snow blindness - A condition where the eyes become inflamed after exposure to the sun's reflection off snow or ice.

Species - A group of plants or animals that have been classified together because they share similar characteristics.

Spiritual - Of a religious nature.

Spore - The reproductive structure of seedless plants.

Stimulant - A drug or herbal treatment that increases the activity of an organism.

Stolon - An aboveground stem that grows horizontally.

StriationS - cratches or grooves in rock created when the underside of a glacier drags sharp stones across the bare surface of the rock.

Sub-alpine - Relating to or growing in mountainous regions just below the timberline.

Summit - The highest point on a mountain.

Sustainable - An act that can continue to be carried out and supported indefinitely.


Tahr - A rugged goat-like mammal that inhabits subalpine shrublands and alpine grasslands in the Himalayas.

Takin - A large animal related to the goat, but resembling an antelope, that resides in the mountainous regions of the Himalayas.

Taxonomist - A scientist who specializes in the classification or organisms, such as plants.

Taxonomy - The scientific classification of plants and animals.

Temperate - A climate characterized by moderate weather.

Terrace - A series of flat platforms or steps dug into a hillside so that crops can be grown, preventing soil erosion and helping water soak into the ground.

Terrain - The natural physical features of a piece of land.

Topographic map - A map that uses contour lines to represent landscape features, such as mountains and valleys.

Topography - The natural features on the surface of the earth, such as mountains and valleys.

Tourism - The act of traveling to a place for recreational purposes.

Trailhead - The starting point of a trail.

Transform plate boundary - When two continental plates move alongside one another, commonly causing earthquakes.

Transhumance - The movement of livestock from mountain pastures in the summer to lowland pastures in the winter.

Treeline - On a mountain, the altitude above which no trees will grow.

Trench - A long, narrow, steep-sided depression in the ocean floor.

Tropical - Climate characterized by high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.

Tuber - The swollen tip of underground stems.

Tuft - Vegetation that grows close to the ground in clumps.


USAID - The United States Agency for International Development. The funding agent for this curriculum, devoted to United States foreign assistance.


Vegetation - Plant life.

Vegetation zone - A section of a mountainside characterized by a distinctive type of plant life.

Vicuña - A wild animal of the Andes that is related to the camel.

Volcano - A mountain formed by the eruption of molten rock or lava through an opening in the earth's crust.


Water cycle - The circulation of water from the earth's surface to the atmosphere and back to the earth's surface.

Watershed - An area bounded by land of higher elevation (mountains, for example). All of the water falling within this boundary ultimately flows to a single body of water.

Weather barrier - A mountain that redirects wind and precipitation resulting in one side of the mountain experiencing wetter or windier conditions than the other side.


Yak - A large, long-haired ox that is employed as a work animal in the Himalayas.

Yeti - A large mysterious primate. Also known as the abominable snowman.


Zoologist - A scientist who studies animal life.

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