Non-Technical Mountain Climbs: 10 Best Hiking Summits
Not everyone is an experienced mountaineer, and getting started can be hard. Let’s face it: climbing Everest sounds like fun until you realize you’ve never climbed a mountain before. And while you want to start off easy, you also don’t want to start on mountains no one has heard of. Here are some non-technical climbs on well-known mountains all over the world!
1. Mount Kenya (Kenya, Africa)
Located in the country it’s named after, Mount Kenya is 17,057 feet high, and it is the second tallest mountain in Africa. Hiking the whole mountain takes 10 days to complete, and the terrains vary on each peak. Mount Kenya has three main peaks: Nelion, Batian, and Lenana Peak.
Peaks Batian and Nelion are permanently frozen with small glaciers and snow, and they have lots of technical climbs. They both require an ice ax and crampons and are considered advanced rock climbing. While they sound rewarding, an inexperienced climber should consider the third peak to begin.
Lenana Peak is the non-technical peak. While it is the mountain’s third-highest point, this peak offers an abundant amount of flora and fauna. You can explore the exotic wilderness of Mount Kenya National Park. Lenana Peak is a very attainable climb. It’s popular among families who want to start hiking together. It also offers a beautiful landscape for the full African experience.
2. Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa)
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits. It’s a dormant volcano and is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It’s about 19,340 feet high and towers over most of Africa. Climbing Kilimanjaro depends on which route you take; some routes can take four nights while others can take between six and eight nights. Kilimanjaro has five routes: Lemosho Route, Machame Route, Northern Circuit, Rongai Route, and Shira Route.
The Lemosho Route is a relaxed route; it allows about eight days to climb and keeps a good height balance between campsites. You’ll pass through forests and traverses, and this route has an average success rate of 91%. The Machame Route is the most popular, which means it’s the most crowded. It has the best views to the west of the mountain, so its popularity is understandable.
The Northern Circuit can be done in eight days but is more relaxed to do in nine days. Basically, everyone reaches the peak on this route, and it doesn’t get super crowded. It’s great for those who prefer solitude while climbing. The Rongai Route is a six-day hike that climbs the northern side of the mountain. You can add a day to this journey to get accustomed to the high altitude, and it has spectacular views.
Lastly, the Shira Route is an eight-day route that goes through the wilderness of the Shira Plateau. This route ascends the mountain from the west side and has a fairly high success rate.
3. Mount Toubkal (Morocco, Africa)
Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in northern Africa, standing at 13,671 feet. Climbing the mountain only takes about two days. There’s a base camp around 10521 feet where trekkers can eat, sleep, and acclimatize to the altitude. While Morocco is typically very warm, it will get colder the higher you climb.
This mountain is considered a good introduction to mountaineering because it only takes a long weekend to finish. However, the climb can be more challenging in the winter months. While you typically don’t need crampons and ice axes on this trek, it’s not uncommon to see them out during the winter months.
The main season for climbing Mount Toubkal is between May and October. Something many guide companies like to do on this trek is wake up early enough on the second day so they can watch the sunrise from the peak. While you might not be an early riser, that certainly sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
4. Mera Peak (Nepal, Asia)
Mera Peak is known as a trekking peak and features a culturally stimulating trip through Nepal’s backcountry. It’s about 21,246 feet high, so be careful of altitude sickness if you don’t climb very often. From Mera, climbers can see mountains like Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyo. Mera Peak offers great views of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This trek can be a round trip or you can descend the other side of the mountain.
On this way down, climbers can see Imja Tse, which is also known as Island Peak. The best time to climb Mera Peak is April to May or October to November. The main goal when choosing when to schedule your trip is to make sure that it isn’t monsoon season and it isn’t too dark and cold. Even if you go before winter, you will need an ice ax and crampons to make this trek. Don’t let the fact that it’s a part of the Himalayas scare you. Mera Peak is one of the most accessible Himalayan climbs.
5. Mount Fuji (Japan, Asia)
This is the highest mountain in Japan, and it’s also the most climbed mountain in the world. It has an elevation gain of 12,388 feet, and it’s still an active volcano. However, it hasn’t erupted in about 300 years, so you should be safe. Mount Fuji is considered one of Japan’s three sacred mountains, along with Mount Tateyama and Mount Hakusan.
While it’s about 100 miles away from Tokyo, Mount Fuji can be seen from the capital of Japan on a clear day. This mountain is only open for climbing between July and August, so make sure you plan your trip accordingly. Climbing Mount Fuji only takes about eight hours, so it’s great for a day trip while you’re visiting Japan.
There are four routes to the peak: the Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya trails. The Yoshida and Fujinomiya trails are the most popular, which is mostly because they have bigger parking lots so tour buses stop there. While it can be called “climbing,” it’s more of a hike than it is rock climbing. The trip can be done without any climbing gear, such as ropes and poles.
6. Mount Stok Kangri (India, Asia)
This mountain is 20,182 feet tall, so acclimatization is key. It’s also the highest peak in the Stok Range of the Himalayas. It’s located in the northern part of India, and trekking the mountain takes about nine days. This round-trip trek is best done between July and mid-September.
This climb is popular because it offers complete peace. Your surroundings are deserted, and the peak gives you the perfect view of the Zanskar Range and the Indus Valley. This climb is also popular because it’s a great starting point for non-technical climbers. The main problem people have with this mountain is the high altitude, and that’s because they don’t acclimatize.
An ice ax and crampons are not required for this climb, but it never hurts to have them handy. Every guide company is different, and you might not want to use one at all. However, some companies will take you through the Thiksey Monastery, which is a Buddhist gompa.
7. Mont Blanc (Franca/Italy, Europe)
Straddling the border of France and Italy, Mont Blanc stands at 15,771 feet. It takes about three days to climb the mountain, but hikers can choose to spend a few days prior to the ascent to acclimatize to the high altitude. This summit can be very busy during the warm months.
This hike can be dangerous because the landscape of the mountain is ever-changing. Crampons and ice axes are vital to completing this summit, and it’s recommended to climb Mont Blanc with a guide for the first time. There are many glaciers on the mountain so be careful of crevasses and serac falls. The best time to climb Mont Blanc is between late May and late September.
Because the mountain sits in two countries, you can climb from either side. The most popular starting points are Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy. Most guides start outside of Chamonix, so be mindful of that when planning your trip. It’s almost vital to climb with a guide because it’s hard to find a hut to spend the night in without one.
There are lots of routes to take to the peak of Mont Blanc, but the four most popular are the Grand Mulets Route, the Italian Route, the Trois Monts Route, and the Gouter Route. The Gouter Route has become the “normal” route, and it’s considered the least technical route to the summit. The Trois Monts Route is the most technical, the Italian Route is the quietest, and the Grand Mulets Route is the original route taken by the first people to climb the mountain.
8. Mount Elbrus (Russia, Europe)
Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe, making it one of the Seven Summits. Although it is the highest summit in Europe, it requires less technical skills than some of the smaller mountains on the continent. But, don’t let this go to your head because you should always be more than prepared when climbing any mountain.
Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano, having its last eruption in 50 A.D. The mountain has two main peaks: the Western and the Eastern. The Western summit is about 18,513 feet, and the Eastern summit is only slightly shorter at 18,442 feet. The Eastern summit was climbed about 45 years before the Western summit.
There is one main route, the Standard Route, that is used by most climbers and guide groups. This route has no crevasses, but that’s if you don’t wander off the marked path. The climb up takes about six to nine hours, and the descent takes about three to six hours. There are other routes to the peak, but they’re rarely used because they are very dangerous. So, your best bet is to take the Standard Route.
Like with climbing any mountain, one of the main dangers is the weather. Extremely cold weather and sudden storms are really common on Mount Elbrus. Remember to bring crampons and ice axes with you. Also, altitude sickness can be very common on Elbrus, so be sure to give yourself and those with you time to acclimatize. The best time to climb Mount Elbrus is from mid-July to mid-September.
9. Mount Whitney (California, USA, North America)
This mountain stands at 14,505 feet tall, making it the tallest peak in California and in the United States. Funnily enough, the mountain sits 84 miles away from the lowest point in North America, which is the Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. The California Geological Survey named the peak after Josiah Whitney, California’s state geologist.
There are a few different ways to climb Mount Whitney. There’s the Mt. Whitney Trail, the short version of the John Muir Trail, the High Sierra Trail, and the long version of the John Muir Trail. The Mt. Whitney Trail is by far the easiest and most popular because of that fact. Although, permits are required to hike and camp on this trail.
The short version of the John Muir Trail goes up the backside of Whitney from Guitar Lake, and it requires a backcountry permit. If you want to take longer to hike, the High Sierra Trail is about 72 miles long and starts in the Sequoia National Park. The John Muir Trail, in its entirety, is about 212 miles long and starts in Yosemite National Park. Trekking all of this trail would take you about a month to complete. It’s possible to summit Whitney in one day, but it’s not recommended for beginning mountaineers.
Getting a permit to hike Mount Whitney is slightly competitive, meaning the Inyo National Forest runs its own lottery to give out permits. The lottery starts at the beginning of February and ends mid-March, and you have to claim your permit by May 1. The best months to hike Whitney are from July to September.
10. Mount Aconcagua (Argentina, South America)
Mount Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits and stands at 22,838 feet. It’s also the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. Climbing the summit can take between three and 20 days, depending on how you want to do it. This mountain has two main routes: The Vacas Valley Route and the Aconcagua Normal Route. The Vacas Valley Route is referred to as tried and true, but also as more aesthetically pleasing.
It offers a quiet traverse up the mountain and has base camps along the way. This route is seen as more technically challenging, posing more of a threat to non-technical climbers. The Aconcagua Normal Route is considered the easiest one. The main thing to beware of on this route is altitude sickness. However, don’t underestimate a mountain. Whichever route you take, don’t forget an ice axe and crampons.
To summit Mount Aconcagua, you’ll need to get a permit. And, there are different permits for the different number of days you wish to spend climbing. The high season ranges from mid-December to the following end of January, and the low season ranges from mid-November to mid-December and the beginning of February to the end of April. There are two main basecamps, Plaza Argentina and Plaza des Mules, that have doctors to examine whether you’re fit enough to continue the climb to the summit.