Have you ever dreamed that you were standing on a mountaintop, arms spread open wide, revelling in the incredible sensation that you have just conquered the something larger than life? Have you ever then Facebook stalked people who actually have conquered your dream only to find that they were all fitness fanatics with selfie sticks, but no social life? Contrary to popular belief, conquering mountains is not only reserved for metaphors or the super fit. I have found some glorious mountains that even the average Joe would be able to scale.
If you consider yourself in reasonable shape and own a pair of decent hiking boots, there are actually mountains you can climb without the hassle of harnesses or intricate vertical ledge swings.
Mount Fuji, for one, is one of those postcard moments you can capture from the top and not just from the bottom. The best time of the year for a climb is July to September. The weather is reasonably good and there is no snow on the mountain. A climb to the top and back takes most people about 10 hours and it is quite easy to do on your own. If you are up for a treat, why not reserve one of the mountain huts available along the route – that way, you can catch the spectacular sunrise.
Australia is not really known for its summits, and its highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko is a relatively easy hike. In the winter, the mountain is used as a ski slope, so if you take the chairlift down, your hike is only about 5 hours. Alternatively, the journey without the shortcut takes about 7 hours.
Breithorn’s western summit in Switzerland is probably the most climbed peak in the Alps thanks to the Klein Matterhorn cable car. It takes climbers up to 300m below that summit. From there, you can head across and up a glacier. It is a bit technical and requires crampons (according to Wikipedia, crampons are traction devices that attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing) and an ice axe. But who doesn’t want to climb a baby glacier?
Do your research
In any case, don’t just jump into it. Do your research first. Find out the best times of the year to ascend your mountain. Mental strength is almost as important as physical strength. Fitness is not all important, but it is important. For your first climb, choose a challenge that fits your level of expertise and your fitness level, preferably one that does not require a lot of ‘big words’ gear. If you are not confident enough to take on a peak on your own, join a mountain climbing club where you can meet like-minded climbers to take a hike with you.
Organise your trip
Lastly, take into account that you may need to make a reservation, get a permit or organise some things ahead of time. Remember to leave only footprints behind and be aware of the impact climbing has on the local environment.
After all the trekking up slopes, it is impossible not to see Julie Andrews on a mountaintop with her family singing, “climb every mountain, swim every stream, and follow every rainbow till you find your dream”.
So on that high note…grab your gear.