5 MOUNTAIN PEAKS TO CLIMB IN A LIFETIME
In love with hiking? We explore five epic locations as alternatives to Mount Everest, which will give thrill seekers that on-top-of-the-world feeling
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Zeke Tucker
11 March 2020
"When you go to the mountains, you see them and you admire them. In a sense, they give you a challenge, and you try to express that challenge by climbing them."
If you are among the enthusiasts dreaming to summit the tallest peak in the world, we invite you to keep on reading for information on Mount Everest’s controversy and the hiking alternatives.
In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay were the first to climb the 29,035 feet to the top of Mount Everest. Today the Nepal’s South Col remains the most common route of exploring this epic location at the Nepal-China border. However, the high number of climbers and staff has left a negative footprint on the mountain where piles of trash now need urgent attention.
The tourism industry revolving around Everest brings great revenue to the Nepali government, which issued hundreds of permits to climbing staff and enthusiasts just this year. Yet, pollution remains only one of the issues along the way to the top of the world. Not only some people face their death on Mount Everest due to the severe climbing conditions, but the challenging weather limits climbing opportunities and creates traffic on the route to the top.
Whichever peak you decide to explore, however high, remote or famous, we kindly remind you to plan your adventures in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. Nature has gifted us with epic peaks and apart from the legendary Mount Everest, we decided to suggest five challenging and satisfying alternatives.
1. The Andes, Peru
The Inca Trail in Peru is a 23,000km road leading to the most famous climbing route in the Americas. Every year near 25thousand climbers take on the 43km hike of stone-paved trail, which leads to the depth of the Cuzco cloud forest. In 1911 Hiram Bingham discovered the lost city of the Inca and the extraordinary citadel of Machu Picchu, now reachable through the Inti Punko or Gateway of the Sun. Travelers should start their journey from the village of Qorihuayrachina. This unmissable adventure requires 3-4 days of hiking through a variety of ecosystems mixing tropical cloud forests, plain deserts and the high Andean landscapes.
2. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Located on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya is the highest and most famous African mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 19,341 feet (5,895m) above sea level. It is the home of disappearing ice fields and shrinking glaciers that provoke scientists’ interest. Kilimanjaro consists of three volcanic cones – Mawenzi (5,149m) and Shira (4,005m) are extinct, while Kibo, the highest, is dormant and it can erupt again. This major climbing destination is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park. The first time someone reached the top was in 1889 and to this day we remember the names Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller.
3. Mount Elbrus, Russia
Located in the Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia is Mount Elbrus. It is the tenth most prominent summit in the world and the highest mountain in Europe. The double-coned volcano consists of two dormant domes – the west summit (5,642m) and the east summit (5,621m). Elbrus is by definition a rewarding climb the dynamic location of the mountain greets clumbers with views of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
4. Matterhorn, Switzerland
This is one of the most recognized mountains on the European continent mainly due to its nearly symmetrical pyramidal shape. It is located in the Alps, at the border between Switzerland and Italy, reaching a height of 4,478m (14,692 ft). The is considered a geographical landmark and the birthplace of mountaineering as a sport. Climbers reach for the summit, which overlooks the Theodul Pass in the east, known since the Roman Era as a trade route and a main passage point between the north and south valleys. The Matterhorn mountain peak offers views of the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia to the south and the Swiss town of Zermatt to the north-east.
5. Denali, Alaska
Rising at 20,320 feet above sea level, Mount Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America. Located in the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, this mountain uncovers breathtaking views that inspire ambition in climbers from across the world. The name was used by the local Koyukon people for centuries. Denali is the third most isolated mount on the planet, following Everest and Aconcagua. On June 7, 1913 Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum were the first to climb the South Summit Since 1951 the West Buttress route has been considered the safest and easiest way to reach the summit, following the footsteps of Bradford Washburn. We advise not only to use this route, but also to plan a climb either in May or June to avoid the dangerous threats of avalanches.