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Top 10 mountains to climb around the world

Matterhorn France by FABRICE COFFRINI
Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP-Getty

There will come a point in your life where you should set yourself a goal so high and off the beaten track that it will testify your physical and psychological limit to the extreme.

Doing so will add an interesting quality to your life, a new perspective of the world and proof of what you’re capable of. So, if you can climb a mountain, is there anything that you cannot do?

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro by Karam Puri
Photo by Karam Puri

Some like it hot, and cold – and as Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro (KiChagga phrase for “we failed to climb it”) is permanently snow-capped at its summit which is an insane contrast to the arid savannah below.

 

 

 

Located on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya, the mountain is made up of three extinct volcanoes, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira – but fear not: the last major eruption was over 360,000 years ago.

Elevation: 5,895m (19,341 ft)

 

Best time to climb: January – March and June – October

 

Best route: Northern Circuit

 

Average time to summit: 7-9 days

Licancabur, Chile/Bolivia

Licancabur and laguna verde by Pedro Szekely
Photo by Pedro Szekely

Rising above the turquoise waters of Laguna Verde, Licancabur is a stratovolcano, and it doesn’t get more volcanic than this. Thanks to its remote location and unforgiving environment, this hiking trip would be more of an expedition – as Incas may have once used the mountain to preform sacrifices, and ruins can still be found on the top. Not exactly your average walk in the park, gentlemen.

And since foreigners may find it difficult to get to the remote location, most people get to Licancabur on a tour of the Salar de Uyuni (famous salt plains), which is very worthwhile in it’s own right. Just remember to purchase your permit to the area from the Campament Secundario office in Laguna Verde.

Elevation: 5,916 m (19,409 ft)

Best time to climb: December – March

Best route: multiple treks that are easy to navigate

Average time to summit: 6-7 hours

Mount Toubkal, Morocco

Jebel Toubkal, Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Photo by Atlas Trek Nature

As the highest mountain in north Africa, Toubkal offers an extremely rocky climbing pursuit – posing further challenges with snow in the winter, and loose scree and dust in the summer. With Marrakesh just 60km away, there’s no excuse but to reach for the summit.

Climbers are able to experience hiking through traditional villages and the option to stretch your climb between 2 days or 6 days, dependant on your experience and just how much you can tolerate the mountainous environment.

Elevation: 4,167 m (13,671 ft)

Best time to climb: June – October (considerable snow outside of these months)

Best route: South Cirque (Ikhibi Sud) gives the most popular and straightforward ascent of Toubkal

Average time to summit: 2.5 – 3.5 hours

Mount Stetind, Norway

Mount Stetind by Johnny Haglund
Photo by Johnny Haglund

This is Norway’s national mountain, and with its perfect obelisk shape rising from the fjord, it’s no wonder why this mountain is as captivating as it is challenging to climb. William Cecil Slingsby, the British father of Norwegian mountaineering, was quoted saying it was the ugliest mountain he ever saw – probably because he failed to reach the summit.

The closest large towns are Narvik to the North, and Bodø to the south, and the mountain is easily accessible with parking and a rest area at the base of the mountain. The entire months of June and July have midnight sun, which will also be snow free, so it’s a mountaineering experience like no other.

Elevation: 1,392 m (4,567 ft)

Best time to climb: June – September

Best route: East wall

Average time to summit: 8-12 hours

Table Mountain, South Africa

Table Mountain by Brendon Wainwright
Photo by Brendon Wainwright

The distinctively level feature of Table Mountain has earned its status as South Africa’s most iconic gem. Looming over Cape Town, the plateau is flanked by Devil’s Peak to the east and by Lion’s Head to the west, edged with impressive cliffs.

With half a billion years in the making, there’s no reason why any man shouldn’t climb such an iconic example of nature’s creation – as did Castilian-Portuguese sailor António de Saldanha in 1503, the first recorded individual to do so.

Elevation:  1,085 m (3,558 ft)

Best time to climb: Anytime of year except October – February. Climbing before 10am is advised to beat ‘Table Cloth’ fog and crowds of people.

Best route: The Smuts Track (easiest)

Average time to summit: 2 hours

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mt Fuji Japan at dusk

Mother nature’s almost perfectly cone-shaped volcano has made it one of the most photographed of all time. Japanese for “a man with a certain status”, Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and is only 60 miles south-west of Tokyo.

Understandably, as an iconic symbol of Japan and its natural beauty, many have plucked the courage to ascend the once forbidden volcano, which now welcomes around 300,000 climbers of all levels of experience each year.

Elevation: 3,776 m (12,389 ft)

Best time to climb: July – September (off-season stations do run, but only experienced individuals are advised to climb).

Best route: Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations with the first station at the foot of the mountain and the tenth station being the summit.

Average time to summit: 6 hours

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Matterhorn France by FABRICE COFFRINI
Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP-Getty

The precariously beautiful mountain resembles a chiseled pyramid which has no doubt made it an attractive climb by many, with the first ascent made on 14 July 1865 by English mountaineer Edward Whimper and his group.

Nestled in the Swiss Alps, the Matterhorn is Europe’s most recognised summit – which was also the birthplace of the sport of mountaineering.

Elevation: 4,478 m (14,692 ft)

Best time to climb: late June – mid September

Best route: Hörnli Ridge

Average time to summit: 6 days (4 days training & acclimatisation and 2 day ascent)

Mount Fitz Roy, Chile/Argentina

Mount Fitz Roy by Rodrigo Wen
Photo by Rodrigo Wen

This spectacular mountain is set in El Chalten Argentina, with a glacier at its base that’s in retreat because of global warming. Fitz Roy is known to local people as Cerro Chaltén, or “smoking mountain,” because its summit is often capped in clouds.

First climbed in 1952 by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone, it remains among the most technically challenging mountains for mountaineers on Earth. And with extremely unpredictable weather, be prepared for anything on this climb.

Elevation: 3,359 m (11,020 ft)

Best time to climb: December – February

Best route: Franco-Argentine Route

Average time to summit: 4 days

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, United States

Half Dome Yosemite by David Iliff
Photo by David Iliff

Situated on one of the world’s greatest climbing areas, the gargantuan granite rock formation isn’t technically a mountain, but thanks to its sheer face, it certainly makes it a challenge for experienced mountaineers to ascend.

And if snow isn’t your cup of tea, then you’ll probably appreciate California’s long summers, so avoid hiking between December and March.

Elevation: 1,444 m (4,737 ft)

Best time to climb: Pre-June, post-August to avoid inflated prices. Hike on weekdays to avoid hordes of visitors, too.

Best route: Half Dome Cable Route (can be very crowded) or rock climbing route.

Average time to summit: 12 hours

Kala Patthar, Nepal

Kala Patthar Nepal
Photo by Henry Chen

For those who haven’t gathered the courage to attempt Mt. Everest, then Kala Patthar (Nepali and Hindi for ‘black rock) is the next best thing – offering insane views of Everest from a safer vantage point. It is the ideal hike for avid photographers who have always wanted to see and capture the world’s tallest mountain.

There is basically one route to Kala Patthar, from the airfield in Lukla (a small town that can be reached from Kathmandu) up the same trail close to the Mt Everest base camp.

Elevation: 5,645 m (18,519 ft)

Best time to climb: March – May (out of season trips risk monsoon challenges).

Best route: Hike/scramble from Gorakshep

Average time to summit: Allow at least 8 days to acclimatise, as the trek is not long, but is uphill and at high altitude. For a standard trekker it should take anywhere from 1.5 – 2 hours to reach the view point.

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