17 of the Best Mountains to Climb Around the World
Remote and awe-inspiring, captivating and challenging. Mountains develop an intrigue in people that encourages a lifelong fascination, wonder and sense of purpose. Some of the most miraculous regions of the world, they entice people with a gripping gravitational pull and encourage a drive and energy to succeed that is rarely matched elsewhere.
Though to some it may be a daunting prospect, the possibility of reaching the summit of a mountain is, to many, enough to inspire months or even years of toil, grit and determination to go through rigorous training and at times torturous ascents because the results are simply worth it.
Standing atop a peak, looking down on the world from which you have climbed and marvelling at the stunning views all around, taking in the beauty of the world is the pinnacle for any climber. The natural rewards and sense of achievement are incomparable to any other pairing.
Whether a beginner starting off on a mountaineering adventure or a seasoned veteran of many of the world’s greatest peaks, it can always be inspiring to look for the next great exploit. Here are seventeen of the greatest mountains you can climb around the world.
Mount Everest (Nepal/China)
Famous the world over as the highest mountain above sea level, Mount Everest can be found straddling the Nepal-China border, peaking at 29,035 feet (8,850m). Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay were the first confirmed climbers to have reached the summit, doing so in 1953.
Everest is a hugely significant income generator today, particularly for Nepal. Only a few hundred permits are issued each year to climbers wishing to scale the whole mountain and cost thousands of pounds to obtain. Deaths have occurred on the mountain for a variety of reasons, including deaths linked to the cold weather, oxygen levels due to the altitude and falling.
More popular are treks to the mountain’s Base Camp. Much safer and taken on by tens of thousands of people each year, the trek to base camp will lead you to just over 18,000 feet above sea level.
Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
Located in Tanzania, Africa’s highest mountain is Kilimanjaro, made up of three extinct volcanoes. The highest peak, Uhuru is 19,340 feet. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and its summit was first reached in 1889 by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller.
Flat-topped Kilimanjaro is considered to be a mountain accessible to all levels of climber. Beginners, following a period of training, can successfully take on the climb. To guard against Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), suggestions are that people approach the mountain climb over additional days to allow for acclimatisation. Furthermore, this gives you more chance to appreciate the beautiful scenery and wildlife, particularly birds, that you will encounter on the adventure. Kilimanjaro is a great claim and feather in the cap of anyone, experienced mountaineer or not.
Mount Elbrus (Russia)
A dormant volcano in the Caucasus Mountains of Southern Russia, Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and the tenth most prominent peak in the world. Featuring two summits, both dormant volcanoes, its tallest point is the west summit. At just over 65 feet more than its eastern counterpart, it stands at 18,510 feet. The east summit was first ascended in 1829 by Khillar Khachirov, while the west’s summit was reached by a British expedition led by Florence Crauford Grove in 1874.
The climb is both strenuous and rewarding, with dynamic terrain and a vast array of cultures found in the region.
Mount Kenya (Kenya)
Africa’s second-highest peak, Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano with eroded slopes and numerous valleys. It has three peaks standing at over 16,000 feet, with its highest, Batian, at around 17,057 feet high. It is the source of the name of the country in which it is found.
With lower areas covered in forest, different vegetation bands at different elevations and a significant source of water, the mountain is an important part of the region’s eco-system and beyond. Over sixteen thousand people visit each year hoping to be rewarded with rich wildlife. Since 1997, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Table Mountain (South Africa)
Accessible by climbing and cable car, Table Mountain is a relatively short climb though still requires a reasonable level of fitness. Famed as one of South Africa’s most iconic places, it has a distinctive flat top which stretches for around three kilometres. Flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, the mountain is around 3,563 feet above sea level.
The mountain is often covered by orographic clouds when winds are directed up the mountain’s slopes into colder air, where the moisture condenses to form what is known as the ‘table cloth’. Climbing in the early morning before ten is your best bet of avoiding the table cloth.
Mount Denali (Alaska)
The highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali rises to 20,210 feet above sea level and is considered one of the most isolated peaks on earth. It has been referred to by its current name by local people for centuries, while it was officially recognised as Mount McKinley, in support of William McKinley, between 1917 and 2015. The first verifiable ascent was made by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper and Robert Tatum in 1913. James Wickersham was the first man to record an attempt to climb the mountain in 1903, though he was unsuccessful, and Frederick Cook claimed to have successfully completed it in 1906, though this was unverified.
The elevation gain achieved in climbing the mountain is greater than anywhere else in the world. Diverse views and breathtaking, daily changes characterise the mountain and provide its major appeal to explorers.
Mount Khüiten (Mongolia)
Khüten Peak is one of five peaks of the Tavan Bogd mountain range. Close to the border tripoint between Mongolia, Russia and China, it is the highest point in Mongolia and is also known as the Cold Peak and Friendship Peak. Permanently snowcapped, the international border of China and Mongolia runs across its summit point.
The first known ascent of the peak was in 1963 by government-sponsored Mongolian mountaineers. The climb is considered to be exceptionally scenic, yet one of the more remote places remaining on earth. Kazakh nomads who are encountered along the way are famed for their gentle hospitality.
Mount Kinabalu (Borneo)
The highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker Range is also the highest mountain in Malaysia. By topographic prominence, it is the 20th most prominent mountain in the world. Accorded UNESCO World Heritage Status, climbers must be accompanied by accredited guides at all times as the region is a national park with regulations. Good physical fitness will be required, though no specialist equipment should be needed.
The mountain’s highest point is around 13,435 feet. It is considered to be an important biological site, with between 5-6,000 species of plant, comfortably over 300 bird species and more than 100 mammalians identified in the area. Preparation is key, with contrasts in conditions seeing temperatures vary from the sweltering heat in the jungles, to chilly sunsets atop the mountain.
A mountain of the Alps, the Matterhorn is an iconic location attracting visitors from across the globe. Roughly resembling the shape of a pyramid, it is considered a pure and traditional climb by many experienced in the field.
Four steep faces rise above surrounding glaciers to 14,692 feet. The mountain overlooks Zermatt, a Swiss town to the north-east, and the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia to the south. On its eastern side is the Theodul Pass, a main passageway and trade route used since the Roman era.
Mount Whitney (Sierra Nevada)
The tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney rises to 14,505 feet. Found in California, it is thought to be a great introductory mountain for people serious about heading into mountaineering. In different seasons it offers different challenges. The Mountaineers’ Route offers a great sense of adventure and while it involves scrambling, doesn’t require specific, expensive equipment or well-honed techniques. It is accessible during the summer months to climbers with a reasonably good level of fitness. During the winter, however, the route becomes more of a challenge and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.
Cho Oyu (Nepal)
At 26,864 feet, Cho Oyu is the sixth-highest mountain in the world. It stands on the China-Nepal border and, although it is regarded as one of the easiest mountains that peak at over 8,000 metres, it should not be underestimated. It will require a huge investment to scale, both in time and money. However, it is also thought of as one of the safer mountains to climb, with only a limited amount of technical skill required, although altitude training will still be needed before attempting to reach the summit.
Lying between Nepal and the Sikkim region of India, Kangchenjunga is the third-highest mountain in the world. It rises to 28,169 feet and is regarded as one of the best places to go mountain trekking in the world. Travelling to the mountain itself takes adventurers through stunning scenery and adds to its reputation as a once-in-a-lifetime place to visit. During the climb, you will pass through tropical jungles and mesmerising forests on your way to one of a range of peaks, from which you will be rewarded with sensational views. The climb is challenging, but achievable for people with a good level of fitness.
Mont Blanc (France)
The highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe, Mont Blanc rises 15,774 feet above sea level. Its popularity is based around outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing, trail running, skiing and snowboarding.
A variety of routes are available for those wishing to scale the mountain, varying in difficulty and technical requirements. Cable cars also run for those who wish to go high and soak in views, but don’t feel like taking on the challenge of the hike themselves. As a world-renowned mountain, it is a popular jaunt for experienced mountaineers, but is also open to novices who can travel with an experienced guide
Mount Damavand (Iran)
Mount Damavand in Iran is a potentially active volcano and has peaks that top 19,000 feet. Considered by many to be dormant, expert advice should be sought before travelling, though the beauty and majesty of the mountain speaks for itself. It is part of the Volcanic Seven Summits mountaineering challenge and the second most prominent peak in Asia behind Mount Everest.
Featuring hot springs as well as a vast array of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and flora, the region is a spectacular destination for nature lovers as well as those in search of a different adventure.
Famed for exceptional diversity, the Annapurna region is considered one of the most difficult and treacherous mountain regions to climb in the world. Reserved for the best and most experienced climbers, trying to reach the summit is a very dangerous activity. However, other routes are available, and there is much to be said for taking on one of those challenges.
The region is one of the richest and most diverse mountain regions in the world. From bamboo forests to arid mountain landscapes, there is a huge contrast to be found in circumnavigating the mountain. It has one peak at over 26,000 feet, thirteen over 23,000 feet and a further sixteen over 20,000 feet.
Though not as large as many other mountains, Snowdon in Wales is no less spectacular in its surroundings and is the ideal place for any first-time mountain climbers to kick-start their adventures.
It is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year, and with a peak height of just 3,560 feet, it is accessible to anybody with a reasonable level of fitness. It is the highest peak in the British Isles outside of the Scottish highlands and, on exceptionally clear days, it is possible to see parts of England, Ireland and Scotland from the summit.
World-renowned, Argentina’s Aconcagua is commonly known as the “highest trekking peak in the world”. It is the highest mountain in the Americas, highest outside of Asia and the highest in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. One of the so-called Seven Summits of the seven continents, it peaks at 22,837 feet.
Though it is considered to pose a challenge for climbers, Aconcagua is also achievable even for novices who have a reasonable level of fitness. There is little technical challenge to reaching the summit, although it should still not be underestimated as unpredictable weather and the altitude of the mountain can pose challenges to even more experienced climbers.
The achievement in scaling any mountain should never be underestimated. Passion, dedication and will-power will always be key ingredients through the training phase and climb itself but speak to any climber and they will tell you that the rewards present themselves in the most fascinating and fulfilling ways. Pick your mountain and set about overcoming that challenge today!
Are these mountains safe?
All mountains, indeed all outdoor activities, come with an element of risk. As with anything, the level of risk varies and can be totally different for different people. Always seek in-depth, specific advice before booking a trip to any mountain and climb within your capabilities, including your technical, physical and mental capabilities.
Will I need specific equipment to climb these mountains?
Some of the mountains listed above should only be attempted by experienced climbers who are well-trained. Others, however, are open to people of varying abilities and experiences, even if it is your very first climb. Therefore, for some of the mountains, high-level equipment will be needed while others will just require you to have a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
Will I need specific insurance cover?
If you are travelling abroad to climb a mountain, comprehensive mountaineering travel insurance that covers you for mountain-related activities is absolutely vital. In some cases, you will not be allowed onto the mountain without it, but in all cases it is absolutely pivotal to be covered in case of all circumstances. Climbing a mountain can turn in a split second for even the most seasoned veteran; you must be prepared for all eventualities with specific insurance to cover your planned activities.