Mountains not only request, but demand respect. With feet of snow, hurricane-like winds, little oxygen and their own weather, it’s remarkable we get windows into their world at all. Some are still unclimbed, others invite us in. If you are physically fit but just starting out as a mountaineer here are a few ‘fourteeners’ – mountains higher than 14,000ft – to get you started.
These summit attempts should not be attempted without proper safety precautions. All of these mountains can be summited by first-timers, but we recommend the assistance of a guide with proper training and experience.
Mt Whitney, California: 14,505ft
It’s the highest peak in the continental U.S., but a trail takes you to the top. A permit is required to hike the trail and you’ll need to participate in a raffle to get one. However for anyone who wants to start climbing and sharpen their skills, Whitney is a winner.
What to bring: Water. Unbelievably, there is no water on the mountain. You are exposed the entire hike up. Besides altitude sickness, dehydration is a serious threat to climbers.
Pikes Peak, Colorado: 14,115ft
As far as scaling mountains go, it doesn’t get any easier or more accessible than Pikes Peak in Colorado. A 13.5-mile trail takes you up 7,400 feet to the summit. Once there, you’re greeted with a road, a train, and 500,000 other visitors each year. There is no other 14er with the ease and safety margin of Pikes.
What to bring: A water purifier. There is water along the trail, but it needs to be sanitized before you take a sip. Again, dehydration is a killer with altitude.
Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: 19,341ft
Tickling the 20,000-foot mark, it may be a surprise to some that this mountain is even on our list. Rest assured – altitude is the greatest challenge on this mountain. Located in northeast Tanzania, Mt Kilimanjaro can be hiked without setting foot on ice or snow. A guide is required and it will take you up to a week to reach the summit, but to say you climbed Africa’s highest peak is on many climber’s bucket list.
What to bring: Your wallet. Sadly, in order to scale Kilimanjaro you need to break bank. But the money goes to the experienced guides and Kilimanjaro National Park to keep the mountain and wildlife pristine.
Mountaineering: The great Colorado ‘fourteener’ road trip
Mt Kenya, Kenya: 17,057ft
After ascending Kilimanjaro, why not jump across the border and tackle Africa’s second-highest peak? Mt Kenya, skyrocketing to more than 17,000 feet, may be lower than Kilimanjaro, but it’s more challenging. With a couple of different routes up this massif, the path you choose is up to you. Once you get there, the views and geography are worth the effort.
What to bring: Camping gear. No matter which route you take, it will consist of a multi-day ascent. With permits and guides in tow, a tent, sleeping bag and pad are all necessary for this summit.