Ten Mountains For The Amateur Mountaineer

A lot of adventure travelers also happen to be armchair mountaineers. They follow the worlds top climbers as they make bold attempts on impossibly high and remote mountains in all corners of the globe, and they cheer them on as they stand at the top of the world. Many of them secretly wish they could go on their own expeditions to these distant peaks, but for a variety of reasons, they never have the opportunity.

It turns out there are a number of great climbs that can give you the feeling of your own big mountain expedition, without the big mountain expense and the need to give up several months of your life. Forbes Traveler has put together a list of ten such mountains each of which will challenge the heartiest of travelers, while delivering a true mountaineering experience.

Several of the mountains on the list are icons that are already popular with amateur climbers. Mountains like Mount Blanc on the border Italy and France. The 12,000 foot peak is considered the birth place of modern mountaineering, and is one of the classic climbs of Europe. The 19,340 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro is also considered a classic climb, taking trekkers to the highest point in Africa.

The other mountains on the list, while possibly lesser known, offer unique mountain experiences that are sure to thrill any adventure traveler and would-be mountaineer. These peaks can be climbed in a matter of days, rather than weeks, and they won’t leave your pocket book quite so empty as say an Everest expedition, which can cost upwards of $50,000 and require two months of time on the mountain.

So, if you hear the call of the mountains yourself, and you can’t resist the lure, strap on your crampons, grab your trekking poles and head to any one of these peaks for an adventure of your own.

Classic Treks: The Haute Route

There is a misconception that all of the great treks of the world involve backpackers roughing it in remote backcountry in a distant third world country. While those treks do hold a certain appeal, there are plenty of other great hikes that don’t require that you give up all of your amenities, and rough it, just so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Take the Haute Route for example. The 110-mile trek runs along a variety of routes from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland and generally takes about 12 days to complete. The route runs through some of the most scenic sections of the Alps, beginning in the shadow of Mount Blanc and ending under the Matterhorn, quite possibly the two most famous mountains in all of Europe.

While the Haute Route, which is also known as “the High Route” or “the Mountaineers Route”, is non-technical, it can still be physically demanding. The easy to follow trail climbs through 11 high passes, but reachs heights of nearly 12,500 feet in the process, and even during the summer, the use of crampons and ice axes may be necessary.

While this may seem daunting, and at times it can be, trekkers can look forward to staying in excellent mountain huts at the end of each day. The comfortable huts are found along the trail at intervals equivalent to a day’s hike. When the travelers arrive, they can kick off their boots, gather round the fire and partake in some of the surprisingly good food and local wines before retiring to a warm, comfortable bed for the night.

The Haute Route is often described as “the most beautiful walk in Europe” and that reputation is well founded. It passes through lush meadows and around brilliant glaciers stretching down some of the most impressive peaks in Europe. The trail even finds its way in and out of sleppy little mountain villages, giving trekkers the opportunity to experience Europe from a different perspective, far from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities.

During the summer months, the Haute Route is a popular destination for backpackers, but that doesn’t mean it closes down in the winter. The route is open for cross country skiers, who cover its length in roughly five days, enjoying the same scenery, and staying in the same mountain huts along the way.

No matter if you go in the summer or winter, you can expect a great outdoor adventure, with stunning scenery, and wonderful accomidations at the end of the day. You’ll challenge yourself physically but be rewarded with fine meals and comfortable beds for your efforts, and you’ll get to see parts of Europe that most only dream of.