Top Mountaineering Expeditions For Beginners

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Outside Magazine’s Adventure Adviser has a great post today answering the question: “What are the best beginner-level mountaineering expeditions across the world that a regular, fit trekker can attempt?” Seems like a natural question for fans of the outdoors who are looking to get into high altitude mountaineering for the first time.

And what does the Adviser recommend? His “very subjective” list of the top five mountains for beginners to cut their teeth on.

1. Mount Baker, Washington (10,781 feet)
2. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (19,340 feet)
3. Mount Khuiten, Mongolia (14,350 feet)
4. Mount Elbrus, Russia (18,500 feet)
5. Aconcagua, Argentina (22,840 feet)

Quite a good list, as you have a strong start to the Seven Summits and a couple of other challenging, yet scenic and spectacular climbs. None of these incredibly technical, and the biggest obstacle would be dealing with altitude, but they’ll give you some skills that you can take on other climbs, and a taste of what it feels like to get up into the thinner air.

What do you think? Anything that should be added to the list? I was thinking about the 18,491-foot tall Orizaba in Mexico as a possible addition and obviously something like Rainier, at 14,411 feet, which is a popular mountain for potential climbers to cut their teeth.

Any other suggestions?

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8 thoughts on “Top Mountaineering Expeditions For Beginners”

  1. I was going to say the same as Adayak. Shasta is a great one as you get a bit of glacier and crevasse experience for beginners.

  2. We are blessed to have many mountains in WA for beginner mountaineers, and Baker and Rainier are just two of them. Another three good choices here are Adams, Olympus and St Helen's ( in winter).

    What about Mt Fuji in Japan ? Famous and non-technical…

    Isn't Aconcagua considered to be for more advanced climbers?

  3. Paul: Aconcagua's main route is a walk-up, it' just happens to be quite tall, so the Altitude can be an issue. While there are some VERY technical routes, the regular one is not very difficult at all.

  4. The Ecuador trip I did with Alpine Ascents (Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo) is also great for beginners. You sleep in huts, so it's not a slog sleeping in tents. After each mountain, you come down and sleep in a hotel, and can recover. I'd recommend that trip before attempting Aconcagua.

    Aconcagua is not "technical", but 3 weeks is an endurance trip for most people. The altitude can be tough to deal with also, I know I felt a bit disembodied on the summit.

    Mt. Fuji is also great if you live in Asia, I used to live in Tokyo, and could actually see Fuji on clear days from my balcony! I also did Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, and Yu Shan in Taiwan, both walk ups, but great at getting you accustomed to altitude.

  5. All of these trips are guided. I have only a little mountaineering experience, a couple 14ers, but nothing technical. Nevertheless, its been my impression that a significant part of beginning mountaineering is finding climbing partners you can trust (I have a couple people that climb with me based on availability), planning, and self reliance. Guided climbs may have their role, for instance in learning technical skills like crevasse rescue, self arrest, and how to trad climb in alpine environments, but for non-technical routes they seem superfluous and almost counterproductive. Non-technical routes are an opportunity to test the limits of your own endurance, and to develop organizational and environmental skills (eg an understanding of weather conditions and altitude). While guided climbs will provide an opportunity for the former, they offer nothing as far as the latter is concerned. This entire list strikes me as something more suitable for the layperson who wants to sample the experience of mountaineering rather than one who intends to progress from a beginner to someone who achieves first assents on remote and technical peaks.

    I am myself a beginner though, so I would be interested in what more experience climbers think of this stance.

  6. All of these trips are guided. I have only a little mountaineering experience, a couple 14ers, but nothing technical. Nevertheless, its been my impression that a significant part of beginning mountaineering is finding climbing partners you can trust (I have a couple people that climb with me based on availability), planning, and self reliance. Guided climbs may have their role, for instance in learning technical skills like crevasse rescue, self arrest, and how to trad climb in alpine environments, but for non-technical routes they seem superfluous and almost counterproductive. Non-technical routes are an opportunity to test the limits of your own endurance, and to develop organizational and environmental skills (eg an understanding of weather conditions and altitude). While guided climbs will provide an opportunity for the former, they offer nothing as far as the latter is concerned. This entire list strikes me as something more suitable for the layperson who wants to sample the experience of mountaineering rather than one who intends to progress from a beginner to someone who achieves first assents on remote and technical peaks.

    I am myself a beginner though, so I would be interested in what more experience climbers think of this stance.

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