Just as during the dawn of mountaineering, the world’s largest mountain peaks still appeal to the imagination of many people. Whether it is the urge for rugged nature, the desire for adventure or the physical challenge that calls them. Not so rarely do they dream of the very highest peaks in the Himalayas. But which expeditions are the best to start with?
Mount Fuji, Japan (3776m)
With an altitude of 3776 meters, Mount Fuji isn’t amongst the tallest peaks in the world. Still, it is the highest mountain of Japan. Mount Fiji towers over the surrounding landscape and can be seen from the capital Tokyo. Since the volcanic peak is considered sacred by the Japanese, it is one of the most-climbed mountains in the world. The hike up to the summit isn’t technical but is a great introduction to what stamina you need for climbing mountains. Fit climbers take about eight hours round-trip to summit. The hiking season is a short one, only in July and August are the trails snow-free.
Breithorn, Switzerland (4164m)
The Breithorn is often referred to as the easiest four thousander in the Alps. The main reason for this is ease of access. From the village of Zermatt, a cable-car takes you to the Klein Matterhorn, located at an altitude of 3883 meter, leaving you a mere 300 meters before reaching the summit. Via the normal route is not very technical, though experience with ice axe, crampons and glacier traversing are required. The climb takes about 3 hours to complete making this one of the shortest in the Alps. Still, the view from its summit remains impressive as the mountain is located in between the iconic Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif.
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (5895m)
If you want bragging rights about having climbed the highest mountain on a continent, the Kilimanjaro is the perfect option. Kili is not only the highest mountain in Africa, but with its 5895 meters of altitude it is also the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The biggest challenge in climbing Kilimanjaro is acclimatizing to the thin air. Therefore most people take about 5-8 days to climb. There is no technical difficulty in climbing Africa’s highest as there are no glaciers to traverse. Still, a local guiding service is required on all routes. Kilimanjaro is a great first climb, as it is the perfect opportunity to see how well your body reacts to higher altitudes without other dangers in mountaineering.
Mount Whitney, USA (4421m)
The highest mountain in the continental United States seems like an impossible goal to set. Well, it’s not. The peak is located in the Sierra Nevada range in the west of the country. The trail to the summit is a long one, though not very technical. The major challenge of summiting is the altitude as you will need sufficient time to acclimatize to the thin air. Another challenge may be obtaining a permit from the US Forest Service.
Mont Blanc, France (4810m)
The same applies for the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. It may seem odd, but the highest mountain in the Alps is great beginner climb when taken via the normal route. However, we have to mention that there are quite some alpine dangers on the way to the summit why it is recommended to hire a local guide. In Chamonix you can hire a guiding service who will teach you all the basics of alpine mountaineering. And as a climax, you get to tick off the highest mountain in the Alps.
Pico de Orizaba, Mexico (5636m)
Pico de Orizaba is the highest volcano on the North American continent. Often described as a perfect cone, the peak gives mountaineers a relatively safe snow-climbing experience as the glacier on its slopes is not heavily crevassed. Before attemping to climb Pico de Orizaba it is best to climb some smaller peaks in the region to acclimatize. Orizaba itself is often done in two days. The summit climb starts from the Piedra Grande hut and follows a 40-degree snow slope and ice to the summit.
Mount Elbrus, Russia (5642m)
Despite being located in the Caucasus in Russia, Mount Elbrus is regarded as the highest mountain in Europe and therefore listed as one of the Seven Summits. A cable car reduces the amount of time needed by climbers to reach the summit. It takes about two days in total, thought you will need more in advance to acclimatize. The normal route requires no technical ability except the use of crampons and ice axe. The main concerns are the altitude and the weather which can be terrible at times. Therefore July and August are the best options.