There’s no doubt that climbing a mountain is an achievement. Mountain climbing is a life-changing hobby but can be costly and dangerous, especially if you’re willing to ascend some of the world’s tallest peaks. Whether it’s the incredible views, the thrill of adventure, or the bragging rights from conquering the world itself, there’s something about these majestic formations that attracts us. Every mountain poses its own risks and dangers but also offers rewards you could never find anywhere else.
While Mount Fuji is not the largest mountain in the world, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest. With four trails and multiple rest stations, Fuji-san is more accessible than most mountains with similar heights. However, its elevation of almost 12,400 feet is still considerable and may give less experienced climbers some trouble. If you want to have the best possible view, begin climbing at night. You’ll reach the summit just in time for the breathtaking sight of dawn’s first light illuminating the Land of the Rising Sun.
The highest peak in the western hemisphere, Cerro Aconcagua, has an elevation of over 22,000 feet. Because of this, it qualifies as one of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Many climbers choose the quiet and more scenic Vacas Valley Route. Others choose the “Normal Route,” which is a faster climb. Travelers willing to face the risks of frequent storms, falling ice, and altitude sickness can try one of the other dozens of routes.
Mount Shasta isn’t a legendarily high mountain elevation-wise, but it is a famous peak with nearly 10,000 feet of prominence. This is the section of the mountain from its summit to the lowest contour line encircling it. Essentially, mountains with great prominence are “taller” than those with lower prominence. They also require more climbing but offer much better views. Climbers should prepare for hazardous weather conditions on Mount Shasta, even in the summer. Most people take the seven-mile-long Avalanche Gulch route, which is an arduous but rewarding climb. Thrillseekers with some experience should try the glacier routes. While they require more skill, the adventure is worth it.
Why not conquer two peaks in one trip? Nevado Tres Cruces is a massif near the border of Argentina and Chile that features two main summits with elevations of roughly 22,000 feet: Tres Cruces Sur and Tres Cruces Centro. Tackling these peaks can be a struggle thanks to their high altitude and the extreme weather changes that affect the area. Nighttime temperatures regularly drop below freezing, and climbers should expect frequent wind gusts.
If you’re using elevation, Denali is impressive but not record-breaking. On the other hand, its prominence of 20,194 feet makes it a contender for the tallest mountain on land. Routes to Denali’s summit vary in difficulty and terrain. Some require a long but doable walk, while others require overcoming vertical ice walls. The view from the top is so beautiful that many people choose to pay for private helicopter rides just to see it. However, there’s no doubt that the view is even sweeter for those who scaled the mountain themselves.
Standing at an awe-inspiring elevation of 18,491 feet, Pico de Orizaba is also the second most prominent volcanic peak in the world at 16,148 feet. Climbers often have to battle through icy rains and crumbling volcanic rock to reach the summit, even on the more moderate paths. Those looking for a true challenge should take the technical path known as the Serpent’s Head. Try to avoid reaching the peak in the afternoon, as fog can ruin the otherwise enchanting view.
If you’re looking to celebrate the world’s beauty, Nepal’s mountains are some of the greatest locations to do so. Even amongst these scenic views, the Annapurna region stands out thanks to its lush vegetation and perfectly white mountains. Annapurna I, the main mountain, has an elevation of 26,545 feet. Despite its beauty, Mount Annapurna is a treacherous mountain peak that even experienced alpinists hesitate to face. Unstable weather, crumbling terrain, stretching crevasses, and steep trails make this mountain many climbers’ white whale.
Mountain climbing is an inherently dangerous activity, but some mountains stand out for their sheer threat level. Nanga Parbat, known locally as Diamer, has earned the nickname “Killer Mountain” for its high number of climber fatalities. Its elevation of nearly 27,000 feet is already an impressive trait, but its prominence of 15,118 feet is equally extraordinary. Its cliff faces are legendarily steep, and avalanches are common. Mountaineers who are able to overcome these dangers receive the mountain’s gift: a view so beautiful, it feels like you’ve conquered the world.
Two peaks make up Elbrus, both of which exceed 18,000 feet in elevation and 15,000 feet in prominence. In the summer, it’s typical for 100 people to begin the ascent each day. Most alpinists use a combination of cable cars and snowmobiles to reach the top from the southern slope. Those wishing for a greater amount of difficulty can attempt the climb from the other sides of the mountain. Alternatively, some people choose to ramp up the challenge even further by braving the brutal winter weather that assaults Elbrus. From the summit, you can look out onto a sea of clouds, with the occasional mountain piercing the sea of white.
One of Colorado’s most beautiful mountains, Longs Peak, is also one of the most popular Fourteeners: mountains with elevations of roughly 14,000 feet. A summer sojourn requires no technical climbing, while ice and snow present dangers during the rest of the year. Storms are a constant worry, and lightning strikes are an ever-present threat. If you manage to surpass these issues, you’ll find yourself at the long, flat summit. Feel free to eat your lunch, rest, and take in the stunning view.
As one of the seven summits, Kilimanjaro has enticed adventurers from all over the world. Truthfully, conquering this mountain is more a test of endurance than a matter of skill. The most popular routes don’t require any climbing. However, skillful alpinists can combine sections of the different paths with a few unofficial routes to create a truly unforgettable climbing experience. The summit of this 19,341-foot high mountain is unlike any other.
Few people ascend mountains just for bragging rights, but those are always a nice bonus. Nevado Ojos del Salado’s elevation of 22,615 is impressive but doesn’t quite measure up to the tallest mountains in the world. However, those who do reach Ojos del Salado’s summit can claim one thing: they’ve scaled the world’s tallest active volcano. It has two peaks, with the west summit measuring 21 inches taller than the other. The east side has a much more difficult and interesting climb.
Because of its isolation, few people attempt to ascend Llullaillaco, making it great for mountaineers looking for a climb without the hustle and bustle of crowds. The ascent is relatively simple from Argentina and Chile, despite its elevation of over 22,000 feet. Plus, the surrounding environment is unbelievably beautiful, especially when the sun just begins to set. It’s worth mentioning that several mummies, known as the Children of Llullaillaco, have been found here.
Conquering Mont Blanc is a rite of passage for many climbers moving onto more advanced mountains, but it is still a realistic goal for beginners. Most people climb this 15,774-foot high mountain starting with a route from the nearby town of Chamonix. The early sections of the climb are straightforward, but the tail-end has risks of rockfalls and extreme cold.
Kangchenjunga sits between Nepal and India, dominating their skylines. Five peaks compose this imposing mountain, with its tallest reaching an elevation of over 28,000 feet. This makes it the third-highest in the world. As beautiful as it is dangerous, many experienced climbers fear the peaks of Kangchenjunga, and there is no “easy” route to reach them. Its impressive height makes altitude sickness a constant threat. Avalanches frequently crash down the mountain’s long slopes. On top of these issues, guides are rarer here, and rescue is far less certain. Despite this, each season, over 20 mountaineers risk it all to discover a sight few others have experienced.