It’s no wonder reaching the summit of a mountain is the life goal of many. And we’re not talking walking up a bunch of steep steps (looking at you, Huayna Picchu). Nope, we’re talking rope, crampons and ice axes. Hell yeah.


1. Matterhorn, The Alps

A good peak to set your sights on is the Matterhorn. Our reasons are threefold: 1. There are a number of routes catering for beginners (but you must have a guide and be in good shape), intermediate and expert climbers; 2. As part of The Alps mountain range, which divides Germany, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy and Austria, it is the closest to the UK; 3. Its pointy peak looks bloody impressive and near impossible to get to, so it’s a great one for showing off to your mates.

Intrepid beginners can take the popular Horni Ridge or Lion routes as they have fixed ropes, ladders and rest huts along the way. It is still recommended you employ a guide, as a lot of the rock can be loose and so you need to be careful about where you place your feet – you could come a cropper if you don’t have someone who knows the route well with you. 

Alpine ISM offers one-on-one guiding for £360 per day this summer, with itineraries spread over five or six days. Although the climb itself only takes one (long) day, the guidance involves showing you how to use climbing tools, working on your scrambling skills across loose rock, acclimatising with stays in mountain hotels, as well as advice, navigation and support throughout your ascent and descent.

Alpine ISM’s guides cover most routes, depending on your experience, so pros can tackle the Zmutt, North Face or Furggen Ridges. Bookings are accepted from early July to September for the best climbing conditions. 

2. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

From the 5885m summit of Mount Kilimanjaro it is possible to see the curvature of the Earth. That’s just cool.

Despite the fact you don’t need climbing equipment (aside from suitable clothing, boots, etc), we let this on the list because it is a challenging climb nonetheless, and a long one. Explore offers a 10-day trip (eight days on the mountain), using the most scenic and least busy route, the Lemosho, for £1745pp.  

3. Khuiten, Mongolia

Part of the appeal of climbing Mount Khuiten is actually getting there. One of Earth’s least accessible mountains, you have to trek for a day to actually reach the base camp, with many tour companies using camels to carry equipment. This climb is not as high as others (4374m), but it is more technical, with crevasses scoring the route to the summit. KE Adventure offers a 15-day trip with treks, park tours and a three-day Khuiten climb for £2495pp. 

4. Elbrus, Russia

Europe’s highest peak (5642m) is a good option for climbers looking to work on their ice and snow training, but you’ve got to get your skates on if you want a go (no, not literally). Adventure Peaks offers a 12-day trip (seven days climbing) from £1750pp, but only until early September, otherwise the route is too dangerous due to unpredictable weather. If you do get up there at the right time, the clean, white, almost ethereal views make it worthwhile.   

5. Everest, Himalayas

We couldn’t have a top five mountains to climb list without Everest on it, could we? No, that would be silly. The summit, at 8858m, is for seriously hardcore climbers – more than 200 people have died trying. But you can start by trekking to base camp, which is still a respectable 5364m high (south side).

Take in the sights of Kathmandu with Adventure Company, as well as visit mountain villages on your 10-day climb to Everest’s base camp, and pay a very reasonable £874pp for 18 days.


Photos: Getty; Thinkstock; Wikimedia Commons