If climbing a mountain is on your bucket list don’t worry, you don’t HAVE to be a mountaineer to do it.
OK, disclaimer. It’s true you don’t have to be a mountaineer to climb a lot of mountains, but the big ones, you definitely do. We’re going to concentrate on the smaller mountains. The ones you can climb and feel a sense of accomplishment but not run a real risk of death. Below are a list of some of the easiest mountains to climb, but you still need to be prepared.
If you’ve ever seen films like Everest, Cliffhanger or Vertical Limit – you may have been scared off climbing any sort of mountain. But trust us, there is something rewarding about hiking to the top. That view, that sense of achievement. It is definitely worthwhile.
There are a few things you will need to successfully climb a mountain.
- You will need to be physically fit. Not necessarily peak fitness, but you should be able to run a few miles without running out of breath.
- You will need decent equipment. This means good walking shoes, some quality clothing layers, food and drink and safety items for contingency.
- On bigger mountains you should have a guide or at the very least…
- A map (don’t rely on GPS unless you have a satellite phone).
Training to climb a mountain
Now we’re looking at mountains that mortals can tackle. You shouldn’t need a sherpa and a mule loaded with gas canisters.
But you should be familiar with walking up steep inclines for several hours at a time. You should also be prepared for changeable weather. The best way to train is to walk. A lot. Up mountains and hills and valleys and anything that challenges you.
If you live on the prairie or in the lowlands of Benelux, you may find you need to go and make a weekend of climbing something steep. But if you live near some challenging(ish) terrain, get your walking boots on and walk.
As well as this it will help to do some light gym work such as treadmills and some upper body strength workouts. Have a mountain climbing fitness regime to get you on the right track.
Get your walking gear
Primarily you will need very comfortable walking boots. This means you should have broken them in at least a few weeks before you hit the climb. You do not need to be dealing with blisters from new shoes halfway up an escarpment.
Wherever your mountain is, the weather is going to be changeable. Bring a waterproof jacket and several light under layers so you can add or remove items as necessary.
You may also need good sunglasses, ideally wrap around and polarised. Make sure they have a string around them as you don’t want to watch them tumble down the side of a gully just when you need them most.
Find your mountain
These are some of the easiest mountain climbs that can be done in a day. You should not need any specialist equipment such as ropes or crampons, but DO check the weather and pick the best time to climb.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking for an easy mountain climb you’ll need to search for a mountain under 4000 meters. These tend to be do-able in a day, although if you’ve never climbed anything before, try and stick to under 2000 meters.
Deep in winter/snow season is generally not the best time to climb. Especially for beginners. Spring/Summer climbs are much easier with less chance of adverse weather, however it always pays to check the forecast.
Ben Nevis, Scotland
At 1352 metres, Ben Nevis is the highest in the UK. A solid climb can be done within a 7-9 hour window.
Mount Snowdon, Wales
At 975 metres, Snowdonia is not massive but is still a good workout. You could get the furnicular railway. Or you could do the 6-7 hour walk.
The Tyrol, Austria
Much of Austria is mountain and there is a whole industry around hiking. The choice of mountains is pretty dizzying with options like the under 4000 metre Kreuzspitze or Texelspitze. Take a look at the Tyrol tourist site for more information.
Have a look also at Hefelekar Peak just outside Innsbruck for a good 2300 meter climb.
Breche de Roland, French Pyrenees
On the border between France and Spain is this straighforward hike, topping out at 2804 metres. There are a lot of options for hiking in the Pyrenees
Amalou N’Mansour, Morocco
At 2712 metres, this is one of the easier climbs in Morocco’s Atlas Mountain range, expect it to take around 9 hours. The whole Jebel Saghro range is perfect for trekking, however you will probably need a guide.
The Simien Mountain range is spectacular and well known for it’s diverse wildlife. Most trekkers here will need a guide and most tours take in several days. But Mount Bwahit is one of the easiest options, easily done in a day.
Stony Man Mountain, VA, USA
There’s a lot of options for mountain climbers across the USA. On the east coast one of the most accesible is Stony Man in Shenandoah National Park. At 1223 metres it’s a simple climb easily done within a day.
Mt Ellen, VT, USA
Another straightforward east coast climb is Vermont’s Mount Ellen. At 1244 metres it’s a straightforward forested ascent, easily done in a day.
Colorado Rockies, USA
Patalsu Peak, India
The Himalayas are the home of the worlds biggest mountains. But there are also plenty of accessible options. Manali and the Kulu Valley are best for simple climbs with Patalsu Peak one of the easiest day climbs.
Kota Kinabalu, Borneo/Malaysia
A jungle mountain climb with the chance of seeing Orangutans is the great appeal of climbing Kota Kinabalu. However, the one day climb might be a bit full on unless you are geared up for a hard slog.
South Island, New Zealand
The backbone of South America, the Andes runs all the way from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. And there are of course various easy mountain climbs across this. Near to Santiago de Chile, Pochoco is one of the most rewarding.
At the other end of the Andes, Ecuador also has a great selection of easy climbs including Corazon.
A word about safety
Mountain climbing is dangerous. Dangers from falling rocks, avalanches, sudden changes in weather or other unforeseen circumstances are common.
Equally common are problems occurring from human error such as fatigue, lack of acclimatisation, poor equipment or lack of training.
If you think you’re not up to the task, turn around and go back down. Make sure you carry equipment in case of any difficulties – including food supplies, a torch and various layers of clothing.
Make sure you have the right travel insurance and stay safe out there!
Have you ticked climbing a mountain off your bucket list? Or is it still on the to-do list? Share your thoughts with us below and please share on social media.