That first glimpse of an imperious mountain peak can take the breath away, so it is no wonder that since the dawn of time humans have tried to conquer these majestic natural wonders. Yet not every ascent needs to be as exhausting as climbing Everest or as dangerous as tackling K2. Here we showcase 5 mountain climbs perfect for novices, where trekking and fun climbs, often equipment free, are the order of the day.
An active volcano within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, Mount Cameroon rises from plains of lush rainforest to reach some 4,095 metres into the clouds. Frequently drenched in rainfall, the landscape is brilliantly green in these parts, and a trek uphill will showcase some of the best of West Africa’s flora and fauna. Starting in a tropical jungle surrounded by forest elephants, bongo antelopes and chimpanzees, walkers soon ascend into sparser grasslands, before reaching the windswept Volcanic highlands where little grows. Walkable almost all the way to the summit, make sure you bring hiking boots with great grip, as the paths can occasionally give way underneath in damp weather. What’s more, as the region’s most active Volcano, make sure to read up on the latest seismic activity before attempting this ascent.
For something more challenging most climbers head straight to the might Himalayas, home to some of the highest, and most deadly, mountains on earth. Yet there are a few more approachable peaks in this formidable range, such as Mount Ladakhi, a 5,342 metre high peak of rock and scree near the Karakorum range. Novices will need some basic training before they attempt to surmount Ladakhi, and knowing how to climb in snow, or walking with rope, will surely come in handy at some point. The entire climb, including acclimitisation and descent, should take around two weeks. When in the area, make sure to make a pit stop at Ladakh town, one of the global centres for the production of highly valued Pashmina wool. This valuable material can be picked up here for bargain prices.
The tallest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus straddles the border between Georgia and Russia, and has a history long shrouded in myth and legend. Ancient Greek tales, for instance, have it that Prometheus was chained to this mountain as punishment for stealing fire from the gods, while the Persians believed the peak was some sort of watch-tower used by the gods to observe life on earth. The mountain was also bitterly fought over by Russian and Nazi troops during World War 2, but today is a far more peaceful place. A cable car, installed in 1976, can take climbers as high as 12,500 feet, but the rest of the 18,510 feet must be conquered on foot. Amazingly, however, a Land Rover Defender driven right up to the summit in 1997, a world record for driving at altitude at the time. Despite this fact, Elbrus can still remain a deadly climb for those ill-equipped and poorly prepared, and at least a dozen climbers fall to their deaths each year. So before you set out to conquer this mighty Caucasian peak, make sure you have all the correct equipment such as crampons and walking axes. While ropes are not needed for the safest routes, it is advisable for less confident climbers, as the steepest sections on the upper slopes have gradients of up to 45 degrees.
If much of the Rockies are out of reach for novice climbers, the lower coastal ranges near Los Angeles offer much more easy-going, and often more picturesque, ascents. Known locally as Mount Baldy, due to the sparse gatherings of trees near the summit, Mount San Antonio is the tallest peak in the San Gabriel range, standing tall at 10,064 feet. Within an easy drive of the Los Angeles basin, hikers here will feel like they are hundreds of miles from civilisation, with only wildflowers, pines and cedars for company on the way up. The mountain is classed as a grade 2 climb, made up primarily of walking and light scrambling, though the stony crevices and fissures that permeate the rock face here mean you may want to bring some basic climbing equipment. The views from the very top are particularly fine on clear days, with unimpeded views to the Mojave Desert, the immense sight of Mount Whitney in the distance, and even the sprawl of Los Angeles lying far in the distance.
The High Atlas mountains of Morocco have always been a favourite for intermediate climbers looking for something a little more challenging than Kilimanjaro but not quite as taxing as the Alpine ranges. The highest peak in North Africa and just 39 miles from popular tourist city Marrakech, the summer ascent here is one of the most approachable in the world, and local porters and mules are on hand to carry any equipment you may be taking along. Hikers will cross rasping high-altitude streams, slick mud-plains, brittle slopes of sheer scree and impressive, amphitheatre-like corries on their way up. Despite the fact this is mountain has a prominence of 12,320 feet, it is considered an easier ascent than much smaller peaks such as Ben Nevis, so is perfect for beginners keen to experience high altitude climbing.
Date posted: 27th March, 2012Home > Articles > 5 Mountain Climbs for Novices