There are some mountains in the world that take days and even weeks to summit, and require technical skill and finesse with an ice axe, and even then, it’s not guaranteed that the mountaineers will make it to the top. In fact, there are some mountains, like Pakistan’s Baintha Brakk, and the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat, which have a small success record, and a very high risk of danger.
There is a reason why some of these mountains have unappealing nicknames that describe how treacherous they are, and these are the mountains that you don’t attempt unless you’re physically fit and technically skilled. However, there are other mountains which are more accessible for those climbers who are just starting out. If it’s an adventure you’re after, without the risk of avalanches and rocks falling, then you may want to visit Cape Town and climb the city’s prominent landmark. Or take a trip to Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies, a peak that apart from having to scramble in certain parts is popular because of its relatively low elevation level.
Below are 10 of the world’s most intimidating mountains to climb, and should be left to the experienced professionals, and 10 that are suitable for beginners.
20 For Professionals: Alaska’s Denali Is Beautiful, But Only Has A 50% Success Rate
There are many beautiful mountains in this world, but some are extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced climbers. Among those mountains is Denali in Alaska, which according to Rough Guides is the highest mountain in North America.
The extreme temperatures, bad weather, and altitude, make this 6,190-meter mountain incredibly difficult to climb, and the publication claims that it takes an average of 21 days to ascend. And according to Rough Guides, despite only 50% of climbers being successful, that doesn’t stop them from trying.
19 For Beginners: Table Mountain Is A Prominent Landmark In Cape Town, South Africa
Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, is a popular tourist destination because of its flat-topped appearance. For those less adventurous, you can take a cable car up this mountain, but you can also climb it because the elevation is only 1,085 meters.
According to Cape Town Travel, there are several different hikes to try, these include the Platteklip Gorge, one of the most popular routes up the mountain. The publication reveals that it is a zig-zag route up to the top, which they claim feels like 2 to 3 hours (depending on your fitness) of walking up stairs.
18 For Professionals: You Need To Be Skilled With An Ice Axe Before Going Near The Eiger
The Swiss mountain, The Eiger, is definitely not the highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of just 3,970 meters, but it’s not the height that’s the problem, but the technical difficulty. According to Rough Guides, the mountain takes around two to three days to summit.
On the north face of the mountain, you need to have skills with the ice axe if you want any hopes of making it to the top, and there is also the threat of falling ice and rock.
17 For Beginners: Cotopaxi Provides The Altitude Training Climbers Need For Future Adventures
Cotopaxi in Ecuador is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, and it stands 5,897-meters in height. According to Trip Savvy, it’s a great mountain to test your body’s reaction to thinning air, and the climb is semi-technical because there are parts which are covered in snow and ice.
To reach the top will take 3 to 4 days, but the publication claims that there is valuable mountaineering experience to be learned from this climb. Adventure Sports Network also claims that while Cotopaxi is not technically challenging, it's the altitude that can take time to acclimatize too.
16 For Professionals: The Matterhorn’s Unfavorable Weather Conditions Make It Challenging
The Matterhorn has an interesting shape resembling that of a horn, and according to the Huffington Post, it has the highest fatality rate of mountains in the Alps. The publication also notes that the mountain has decreased in popularity because of the unpredictable weather conditions (including avalanches and rockfalls).
According to Smashing Lists, the first ascent was by Edward Whymper in 1865, but even that trip resulted in a loss. The publication notes mountaineers are fully aware that when they climb this mountain, they may not come back.
15 For Beginners: Pico de Orizaba Is Giving Mountain Enthusiasts The Best Snow Climbing Experience
Pico de Orizaba is located in Mexico and is 5636 meters high. According to Red Bull, it is a moderate climate and great for giving mountain enthusiasts snow-climbing experience. Red Bull also notes that most guide services include several days on the lower peaks, to allow climbers time to acclimatize before they tackle Pico de Orizaba.
According to Matador Network, Pico de Orizaba is the third-highest mountain in North America, but it’s not without its challenges and requires basic knowledge of glacier travel, as well as ice equipment to climb.
14 For Professionals: Nanga Parbat Has Only Been Successfully Climbed Once In Winter
Located in Northern Pakistan, the Nanga Parbat is the ninth-highest mountain in the world and according to Matador Network, it has never been summited in the winter. Well, that was not until 2016, when a group of climbers made history by becoming the first to reach the 8,126-meter summit, National Geographic reports.
Before this, around 30 expeditions had reportedly been made in winter, all of which were unsuccessful. As for the reason why winter is so much more difficult, according to National Geographic, that's because of the weather conditions, and in addition to extreme temperatures, there is also a risk of avalanches.
13 For Beginners: Mount Fuji Is The Most-Climbed Mountain In The World
Japan’s Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in the country and according to Red Bull, it’s the most-climbed mountain in the world, despite the official hiking season being just two months (July 1 to August 31).
The journey to the top of the 3,776-meter mountain is made easier by huts along common trails that provide mountaineers with food and accommodation, Matador Network reports. The publication also notes that while you can ascent privately, there are many organized tours which cater to travellers' needs, including food and lodging.
12 For Professionals: Cerro Torre Is The Most Challenging Low-Altitude Climb
Cerro Torre is located on Southern Patagonian Ice Field, bordering Chile and Argentina. It is a very technical climb, and according to Huffington Post, it’s the most challenging low-altitude climb in the world. In addition to the risk of avalanches and bad weather, like wind storms, the publication notes that reaching the summit requires ice climbing.
At just 2,685-meters high, the mountain is also much lower in height than many of the other intimidating mountains that make it onto this list, but no less dangerous.
11 For Beginners: Half Dome Is A Stunning Mountain In The Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and according to Thrillist, the Half Dome can be climbed in sneakers (which we think is meant to be a comment on how it's relatively easy climb and not to be taken literally).
Hikers can reach the summit of the 2,694-metre mountain by climbing the hiker’s highway, but the final part of the summit is a 400-foot slab of steep granite rock, which requires the use of cable ladder and a handrail. However, you are not guaranteed a chance to climb it even if you have the ability as The Guardian claims there is a lottery application for permits (which are required) due to the popularity of Half Dome.
10 For Professionals: Annapurna Is So Dangerous, Only A Few Hundred People Have Attempted It
Annapurna located in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal is the tenth-highest mountain in the world, and according to Huffington Post, as few as 150 people have tried to ascend this mountain. It’s extremely dangerous, with one-third of the people who have attempted it losing their lives.
Matador Network also commented on the danger of this mountain, noting that the high loss since the first climb in 1950 has made it statistically the most perilous mountain in the world.
9 For Beginners: Say ‘Yes’ To The Canadian Rockies’ Mount Temple
Located in the Canadian Rockies, Atlas and Boots note that this is the most accessible peak in the range and is frequently climbed. The 3,400-meter summit can be reached in a day, and the publication claims that this short time period is because of the relatively low elevation level.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a super easy climb. Matador Network reports that the route does require some scrambling at certain points, however, there is no need for advanced technical knowledge.
8 For Professionals: Mount Everest’s Popularity Is Actually Increasing Its Danger
Mount Everest is notorious for being challenging and that shouldn’t come as much of surprise considering it’s the highest mountain in the world at 8,848 meters. According to Smashing Lists, Mount Everest is a technically difficult mountain, but it also has other problems with regards to the congestion of climbers.
The popularity of this peak delays other climbers' ascents and descents, increasing the danger. And dangerous it is, because Matador Network claims the mortality rate for Sherpas on the surpasses is apparently higher than those of some of the most dangerous industries in the United States.
7 For Beginners: Mount Meru Is Like Mount Kilimanjaro’s Smaller Cousin
Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is not a mountain you can just arrive at and start your ascent, and it will take some training before you can climb the 5,895 meters from its base. However, you can start off with the second highest mountain in the county (and according to The Guardian, the fifth-highest in Africa), Mount Meru.
Mount Meru is 4,566 meters and lies to the west of Kilimanjaro, and The Guardian reports that it’s not only a shorter and less busy option, but it's also an opportunity to spot some of the country’s wildlife.
6 For Professionals: The Impressive K2 Is The Second Highest Mountain In The World
The K2 is the world’s second-highest mountain and according to Matador Network, it’s one of the most technically difficult and thus incredibly challenging climbs. The biggest issue with this mountain is the unpredictable conditions, and the publication claims that ice pillars on this climb are susceptible to collapsing without any warning.
One of the most perilous parts of the challenging K2 is the narrow area known as the Bottleneck, and most of the accidents have happened around this area, Smashing Lists reports.
5 For Beginners: Monte Bronzone Will Give You A Chance To See Italian Villages
Monte Bronzone, with a 1,434-metre summit, is in the beautiful location of Lake Lugano in Italy, and not only is it one of the easier mountains to climb, it’s also one of the most picturesque. According to The Guardian, when climbing, there are views of farmsteads and waterfalls. The publication also reports that there are a number of old villages and many different trails that lead into the mountain, but you can reach the summit from the village of Dasio.
4 For Professionals: Very Few People Have Reached The Top Of Baintha Brakk
According to Matador Network, only three expeditions have ever made it to the top of Baintha Brakk, located in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range. The lack of success should be an indication of just how difficult it is to climb, despite the 7,285-meter mountain being attempted multiple times.
Smashing List notes that in comparison to Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain in the world and submitted around 300 times a year, Baintha Brakk was last climbed successfully in 2012. And before that, the only other two times were 2001 and 1977.
3 For Beginners: Mont Blanc Is One Of The Most Popular European Mountains And You Can Take A Cable Car Ride
According to Thrillist, at 4,808.7-meters above sea level, Mont Blanc is the highest summit in Western Europe. There is a cable car that can take you most of the way up. However, for those who are serious about actually attempting to climb this mountain, which sits between the French and Italian border, Adventure Sports Network reports that the average ascent takes two days, but the altitude is something that has to be considered.
The publication also notes that this is an incredibly popular European mountain, with over 30,000 people trying to climb it each year, and on a busy day, around 200 people will be trying to reach the top.
2 For Professionals: You've Got To Be Dedicated To Kangchenjunga Because It Takes Over A Month To Summit
Kangchenjunga is the third-highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of 8,586 meters, and is located in Nepal and in India’s Sikkim region.
According to Rough Guides, the average summit time is a whopping 40 to 60 days, and few climbers have reached the top, although that is in partly because climbers are banned from the sacred peak. The government of the Indian state of Sikkim banned climbers out of a gesture of respect for the local Buddhists who regard the mountain as a deity, The Guardian reports.
1 For Beginners: Mount Hood Is Oregon’s Tallest Peak And Boasts The Title Of Second Most-Climbed Mountain
Mount Hood is a stratovolcano in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and is, according to Red Bull, a good place to train for some of the more intimidating and technically-challenging mountains in the world. The mountain is 3,426 meters (and according to Tripadvisor is the tallest mountain in Oregon), but according to Red Bull, it still requires skills that are used on higher peaks, just without the altitude struggles.
The peak claims to be the second most-climbed mountain in the world, with the first reportedly being Japan’s Mount Fuji, Traveller reports.