10 Mountains to climb are scattered around the globe, offering fit and adventurous travellers the chance to shoot for the summit and experience a unique part of the world in a single trip.
Mountaineering experience is not always required, but you’ll need fitness and a head for heights.
Pack a camera and even swimming gear alongside your walking boots – many organised climbs combine wildlife watching, cultural visits and beach chilling, too.
1. Mont Blanc, France
Tackling the mother of all European massifs is definitely challenging and climbing experience is needed to summit this 4,810m peak. It’s covered in snow and ice all year, so you will be using ice picks, crampons and need alpine skills. Summiting takes place over three days, but a weeklong trip gives you time to prepare. Vertigo sufferers need not apply.
When to go: June, July and August
2. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
You’ll need lots of stamina and determination to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but no technical skills as this is more of a hike than a climb. There is a choice of routes up, each with its own merits, taking you from grassy cultivated lower slopes right up to the ice and snow of the summit, at 5,895m.
When to go: Year round, except during the rains of April, May and November
3. Mount Aconcagua, Argentina
This is the highest mountain outside Asia, a whopping 6,961m, but the main route up is not technically demanding. Which is not the same as saying it’s easy! Far from it. This is a physically strenuous challenge, with very high altitude and extreme weather making the going tough. But if you’re fit, with some experience of trekking and camping in remote mountain areas, you can do it.
When to go: Mid December until the end of January
4. Mount Kenya, Kenya
Africa’s second highest peak boasts spectacular flora and fauna, ever changing scenery and far fewer other trekkers than its more famous neighbour Mount Kilimanjaro. To reach the trekkers’ summit of Point Lenana, you’ll need good fitness levels, a sleeping bag and a sense of adventure, but no technical climbing experience.
When to go: December to March and July to mid October
5. Mount Toubkal, Morocco
Scaling Mount Toubkal is challenging, best suited to fit trekkers with some mountain experience. You’ll need to be confident at altitude, too, since the summit soars to 4,176m, rewarding climbers with unforgettable views across the plains to Marrakech and the pre-Sahara. Only got a long weekend free? No problem – you can do this trek in three days, although weeklong trips also run.
When to go: Year round, but expect snow from November to April, requiring climbing in crampons
6. Everest Base Camp, Nepal
At 5,364m, Base Camp is over half the height of Everest. Trekking to it demands no technical skills, but you will need excellent fitness to cope with the 13 days of strenuous ascents and descents and the high altitude. From Base Camp, head higher to Kala Patthar for views of Everest or west into the Gokyo Valley, to see the Gokyo Lakes and cross the lofty Cho La Pass at 5,420m.
When to go: Anytime outside the May to mid September monsoon
7. Grossglockner, Austria
Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner is a challenging but reachable summit. Some basic alpine experience is recommended and be really fit – that means being able to climb 400m per hour – with no fear of height and footing as sure as a mountain goat’s.
When to go: July, August and September
8. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
Gradually winding trails lead up Kinabalu in the state of Sabah in Borneo, the landscape transforming from green jungle to barren rock as you climb higher and the mist lifts. A day’s hike will get you to a rustic mountain cabin where you can rest before tackling the summit in time to see the sunrise. There is an alternative via ferrata route up the mountain, too.
When to go: Year round
9. Cayambe Volcano, Ecuador
Cotopaxi is popular with climbers, but volcanic activity can render it out of bounds. Try Cayambe instead, a 5,790m volcano that can be combined with Pichincha (4,784m) and Iliniza North (5,126m) in a strenuous six days of epic Andean climbing. You don’t need mountaineering experience, but guided ascents will include instruction in climbing on ice.
When to go: Year round
10. Poon Hill, Nepal
A great alternative if want to experience trekking in Nepal but do not have enough time for Everest Base Camp or Annapurna. Four days of trekking will take you to the top of Poon Hill (3210m) from where you’ll see the entire Annapurna range spread out below you.
When to go: September/October