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13 Mountains That You Should Summit Before You Die

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by Katie Scott Aiton Sep 12, 2017

If you are not a well-seasoned mountaineer, preparation, training, research, and determination can still bring many of the world’s mountain peaks into reach. Here’s a list of 14 climbs that do not involve a huge amount of technical climbing experience but are challenging enough to be classified as awe-inspiring.

1. Mount Fuji, Japan

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Japan’s Mount Fuji is an active volcano about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and Japan’s highest mountain. Early July to mid-September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open.

Height: 3,776m
Climb time: 10-12 hours round-trip.
Route: Via Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, Subashrir 5th Station and the Fujinomiya 5th Station.
Difficulty: Non-technical, terrain is rather steep and rocky.

2. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

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Cotopaxi is the second highest mountain in Ecuador and the most popular high-altitude climb in the country — because of the relative simplicity involved in the climb. It is also the highest active volcano in the world. As of August 2015, the park has been closed because of volcanic activity and visitors are restricted due to security reasons.

Height: 5,897m
Climb time: 7-10 hours one way.
Route: Car park (4,600m) — Refugio Jose Rivas (4,800m) — summit.
Difficulty: Physically demanding and very high; can be icy — some technical skills required.

3. Mount Rainier, Washington, U.S.

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Each year thousands of visitors climb the active volcano of Mount Rainier. It is the most heavily glaciated peak in the United States, and offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer.

Height: 4,392m
Climb time: 12 hours.
Route: There are over 60 named routes on Rainier. The Disappointment Cleaver or Emmons Glacier routes are two of the most popular by far and the most straight forward. Another standard route is the Gibraltar Ledges.
Difficulty: Technical. Every route to the summit requires helmet, crampons and an ice axe plus traveling roped up due to crevasse danger. Reaching the summit requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet over a distance of eight or more miles. Climbers must be in good physical condition and well-prepared. Proper physical conditioning can offset the effects of fatigue that lead to mistakes and injuries.

4. Mont Blanc, France/Italy

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“White Mountain,” is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe outside the Caucasus Range. Fitness alone won’t get you to the summit here, you need highly detailed planning, technical training, and thorough altitude acclimatization. Guides are recommended.

Height: 4,810m
Climb time: 2 days round-trip.
Route: Voie des Cristalliers (French side), via the Gouter Refuge (3,817m)
Difficulty: Technical skills and high fitness levels required; bad weather common.

5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

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Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain on earth. It rises approximately 4,877 meters (16,001 ft.) from its base to 5,895 meters (19,341 ft.) above sea level. Depending on the route, you’ll experience landscapes of five temperate zones. Altitude is the main hindrance to summiting climbers but the climb itself is relatively easy. You will need guides.

Height: 5,895m
Climb time: Average 5-10 days round-trip depending on route.
Route: Six main routes; Shira, Lemosho, Machame, Umbwe, Marangu, Rongai.
Difficulty: Non-technical climb, but the high altitude and fluctuating temperatures can make this a real challenge.

6. Mount Elbrus, Russia

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Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe, and one of the Seven Summits. It’s located just in Russia, though it is only a few miles/kilometers from the border of Georgia. Though Elbrus is the highest summit in Europe, it is one of the technically easiest of the higher peaks on the continent.

Height: 5,642m
Climb time: 10-15 hours round-trip.
Route: Standard Route up the south flank to the summit.
Difficulty: Simple climb with gentle slopes. The Standard Route, however, is not easy with lots of snow and high winds.

7. Kala Patthar, Nepal

Photo: Daniel Prudek/Shutterstock

Kala Patthar is located on the south ridge of Pumori in the Nepalese Himalayas. Although it’s technically not a mountain, the trek provides the most accessible point to view Mount Everest from base camp to peak and is a good alternative if Everest is not part of your plans.

Height: 5,643m
Climb time: 9-12 days round-trip.
Route: Lukla — Gorak Shep — Summit.
Difficulty: Technically easy but access is via a long, multi-day trek at high altitude.

8. Half Dome, California, U.S.

Photo: Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock

Half Dome rises nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level. During the hike, you’ll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and — from the shoulder and summit — panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

Height: 2,694m
Climb time: 12 hours round-trip.
Route: From Happy Isles shuttle stop.
Difficulty: Last section requires secured cables and a head for heights.

9. Table Mountain, South Africa

Photo: Andre Gie/Shutterstock

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain towering 1,086 meters over the city of Cape Town in South Africa. Trails run the length and breadth of the mountain, offering exceptional hiking for all levels of experience and fitness.

Height: 1,086m
Climb time: 1-3 hours one way.
Route: Various, including Platteklip Gorge.
Difficulty: Simple, but watch out for snakes.

10. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

Photo: Yusnizam Yusof/Shutterstock

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. A World Heritage Site, Mount Kinabalu is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity with plants of Himalayan, Australasian and Indomalayan origin. You need a permit to climb here, check out the park site for more information.

Height: 4,095m
Climb time: 1-2 days round-trip.
Route: From Timpohon Gate.
Difficulty: On the higher side due to altitude.

11. Kosciuszko, Australia

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Mount Kosciuszko is a mountain located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves, in New South Wales, Australia. Mount Kosciuszko is the shortest and easiest of the Seven Summits to climb.

Height: 2,228m
Climb time: 4-6 hours round-trip.
Route: From Thredbo chairlift.
Difficulty: Simple.

12. Pacaya, Guatemala

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Pacaya volcano in Guatemala is the most-accessible ascent in the country, with an altitude of only 2,500m, it’s also one of the lowest volcanoes in the country. There have been impressive eruptions, the latest being in 2010. The island of Pico in Azores hosts the highest elevation in Portugal. This old and inactive volcano rises 2,351m (7.713 ft.) above the sea level making it the highest peak of Portugal after Torre.

Height: 2,552m
Climb time: 4-5 hours round-trip.
Route: From San Vicente.
Difficulty: Steep climb on mud, sand and rock; active volcano.

13. Jbel Toubkal, Morocco

Photo: Cheryl Ramalho/Shutterstock

Toubkal or Tubkal is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa. It is located in southwestern Morocco in Toubkal National Park.

Height: 4,167m
Climb time: 2-3 days round-trip.
Route: Imil village — Aroumd — Refuge du Toubkal/ Neltner Hut (overnight) — Summit.
Difficulty: This is not a technical climb but the paths are rough. Risk of altitude sickness.

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