Top 10 mountains to climb

strenuous trekking & serious climbing

The world’s mighty mountains, from Ecuador to Indonesia, tempt the fit and fearless to scale their sides, and while summiting some of these big peaks requires technical skill, others only demand stamina and a head for heights. Astonishing mountain scenery, a sense of adventure and summit views at sunrise come as standard, while responsibly organised vacations also tread lightly on the slopes and ensure porters are fairly paid and properly equipped.

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
Our top selling trip: Mont Blanc ascent climbing vacation, France
See all our trips: Mont Blanc vacations
Read more: Mont Blanc travel guide

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
Our top selling trip: Kilimanjaro Climb, Machame Route
See all our trips: Kilimanjaro trekking vacations
Read more: Climbing Kilimanjaro guide

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
Our top selling trip: Climb Aconcagua, Argentina
See all our trips: Climbing vacations
Read more: Argentina travel guide

4. Mount Kenya, Kenya

Arica’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
Our top selling trip: Mount Kenya climbing vacation, Kenya
See all our trips: Mount Kenya vacations
Read more: Mount Kenya travel guide

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
Our top selling trip: Short break to climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Morocco
Read more: Walking in Morocco travel guide

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
Our top selling trip: Gokyo Everest trek in Nepal
See all our trips: Everest base camp vacations
Read more: Everest base camp travel guide and Trekking in Nepal travel guide

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
Our top selling trip: Austria activity vacation, climb the Grossglockner
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Austria
Read more: Austria travel guide and Walking vacations in Europe guide

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
Our top selling trip: Borneo Mount Kinabalu climb vacation
See all our trips: Borneo vacations
Read more: Borneo travel guide and Sabah travel guide

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
Our top selling trip: Climb Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Ecuador
Read more: Ecuador travel guide

10. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia

Indonesia’s second highest volcanic peak towers over the beautiful island of Lombok. Climbing to the rim of the volcano at 3,726m is really hard going, but the views of the crater lake below, Lombok and across to Bali’s Mount Agung and Sumbawa Island, make up for the effort. Camp en route, fully supported by guides and porters.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Climb Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Indonesia
Read more: Indonesia travel guide and Lombok travel guide
Credits: [Intro: texx1978] [Mount kili: Kyle Taylor] [Mount Kenya: kathrynbullock] [Borneo: Chris Wary]

Written by Joanna Simmons
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