Top 10: The Most Stunning Mountains
In the first edition of our Top 10 series, we have counted down some of our favourite summits across the globe. With many to choose from, its a tough task to rule the list down to just ten, but we believe we have picked some of the most stunning and awe-inspiring peaks on the planet. Which are your favourites? Don't forget to share your own top picks in the comments below.
Pakistan, Hushe Valley
Elevation: 6096m | Closest City: Gilgit
Not to be confused with another mountain of the same name in the Haramosh Valley, Laila Peak is located in the Hushe Valley within the Karakoram Range of Pakistan. Its highly distinctive spear-like formation makes it easily recognisable, with a 45 degree face running for over 1500 vertical metres from its peak. Climbing Laila Peak requires a permit for non-Pakistani visitors, alongside a hired mountain guide and insurance for the group. Expeditions typically begin in Islamabad, from which point you take a 45 minute flight to Skardu (or a two day drive up the Karakoram Highway if the weather is bad). This is typically followed by a 4x4 drive to Hushe along a narrow winding trail, before beginning the on-foot ascent.
Read more about Laila Peak.
Nepal, Annapurna Massif
Elevation: 6993m | Closest City: Pokhara
Known as the 'Fish Tail', Machapuchare has never officially been climbed as no permits have ever been issued by the Nepalese government, making it one of the most untouched places on earth. The ban on climbing is a result of its religious significance; the fish tail is said to be home of the Hindu god, Shiva. That said, there are rumours of an illegal ascent in the early 1980s by New Zealand climber Bill Denz, alongside a confirmed British expedition to 150m below the summit in 1957, which was permitted by the Nepali King Mahendra on the basis that they would turn around before reaching the summit. Visitors are however able to trek to the mountain's base camp at 3700m, with local guide companies offering treks starting from Pokhara, typically taking around 14 days to complete.
Read more about Machapuchare.
India, Garhwal Himalaya
Elevation: 6543m | Closest City: Srinagar
Originally described as 'Matterhorn Peak' by European visitors due to its similarity in appearance to the Matterhorn, Shivling is an awe-inspiring mountain in the Garwhal Himalayas, a range in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, and lies close to the border of Nepal. It was first climbed in 1974 by a team from India's border police. Guided trips to the summit of Shivling generally budget for around 30 days and require a good foundation of alpine climbing experience, but could certainly be done in less time for the more experienced climbers. Base camp sits at 4510m, and can form a trip on its own for those seeking less of a challenge whilst still taking in the magnificent views. Trips typically start in Delhi, followed by a train and drive to Gangotri.
Read more about Shivling.
Elevation: 3359m | Closest City: El Calafate
Perhaps one of the most iconic and well-known sights, it would be difficult to exclude Mount Fitz Roy from our list. Located in the Patagonia region, along with the equally attractive Cerro Torre which is close-by, Fitz Roy sits on the border between Argentina and Chile. First climbed in 1952 by French alpinists, it has since become one of the most iconic climbs within the Americas, if not the most. There are many local guides to attempt a summit of Fitz Roy with, but most will only take one or two people at a time for the climb. It is generally climbed across a period of 3-5 days, but can require a month of being on standby (ready to climb), whilst you wait for a perfect weather window. Despite this, the spectacular views of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the broader Patagonia range make it a must-see, and a definite bucket list location for any aspiring mountaineer.
Read more about Fitz Roy.
Nepal, Annapurna Massif
Elevation: 7219m | Closest City: Kathmandu
As the name gives away, Annapurna South (also known as Annapurna Dakshin or Moditse) is part of the Annapurna massif, and ranks as the 101st highest mountain in the world. The nearby summit Hiunchuli is actually an extension of Annapurna South. First climbed in 1964 by members of the Kyoto University Alpine Club, the mountain gets less attention than some of the nearby peaks but it is still not hard to find local guides running trips each spring, typically around 30 days in length. Whilst it is one of many Annapurna peaks, we believe Annapurna South is one of the best spectacles of them all.
Read more about Annapurna South.
Canada, Rainbow Range
Elevation: 3954m | Closest City: Edmonton / Calgary
The most prominent mountain in the North American Rocky Mountains and the highest summit in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson is an incredibly striking mountain located in the province of British Columbia that was first climbed in 1913. The normal routes to ascend are the Kain Face on the northeast side or the Schwarz Ledges on the south face. Guiding itineraries will generally span between two and five days, depending on the level of preparation and local exploration included. In isolation, Robson is not extremely technical across its normal routes but requires a high level of fitness, and poor weather conditions can easily increase the mountain's hostility, with a 50% success rate being typical. You guessed it: ice axes, crampons and rope are a must.
Read more about Robson.
Switzerland, Bernese Alps
Elevation: 4274m | Closest City: Bern
The highest mountain in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, and the most prominent in the country, Finsteraarhorn lies around 65km to the north east of the Matterhorn. The first ascent took place in 1829, and it remains a popular peak amongst European climbers today. It can be considered as a good summit for those looking to gain experience before moving onto some higher or more technical climbs. Ropes, ice axes and crampons are a must for the route, which has many crevasses to be wary of. The normal route starts from the Jungfraujoch (we highly recommend you google it; it's a great place to visit in itself) at 3475m, reached by rail. From the Jungfraujoch, you cross the Konkordiaplatz and Fiescher glaciers until reaching the very comfortable Finsteraarhorn hut. In all, a full ascent and descent can be done over only a couple of days, depending on your speed and experience.
Read more about Finsteraarhorn.
United States, North Cascades National Park
Elevation: 2783m | Closest City: Seattle
Located approximately 12 miles south of the Canadian border, Mount Shuksan lies within the Cascades mountain range, with its name deriving from the native american Lummi tribal language, meaning ‘high peak’. Like most climbs, there is some debate over its first ascent, but is generally believed to be around the year 1900. The mountain offers rock wall climbing, steep ice, and varied rates of scrambling, and is located near to Mount Baker for those also looking for other ascents. The most common route is the Sulphide route, a class 3 climb which can be completed in a day, or over two days at a more relaxed pace.
Read more about Shuksan.
Japan, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Elevation: 3776m | Closest City: Fujinomiya
A national icon of Japan, Fuji is a great mountain for those who enjoy a hike and requires very little technical knowledge or experience and is the highest mountain in Japan. Whilst it may be a great mountain for beginners, it does not make it any less of a desirable summit, even for experienced climbers. As an extra appeal for those visiting Japan in the summer months, it can be climbed within a day with a good pace with an early start, and requires little equipment, assuming a dry summit. The mountain tends to be snow-covered for 5 months a year, with the best months to climb it for a dry ascent being July and August. Note that is an active volcano, though it has not erupted since 1707 and is a very common climb. It is located approximately 60 miles southwest of Tokyo, and can be seen from the city on clear days.
Read more about Fuji.
Elevation: 3181m | Closest City: Bolzano
Known also as the Sassolungo, Langkofel is the highest peak within the Langkofel Group massif of eight major peaks that offers a range of climbing in technical ability terms. The most common route begins at the Passo Sella parking area at 2200m, where you can find a combination of free and paid-for parking spaces, but it gets busier in the summer months, though this is also when it is best climbed. It was first climbed in 1869.
Read more about Langkofel.