3 Great Asian Mountains You Should Visit
Mountaineering is not only about scaling large pieces of sturdy rocks. Rather, it’s a passion and a lifestyle. Apart from simply being a source of adrenaline and thrill for many adventure-seekers, mountains are truly a force of nature, a symbol of its magnificence and its beauty. The continent of Asia is uniquely placed to provide its visitors the full extent of mountaineering experience. There are many mountains that you can visit to immerse yourself socially and culturally while also stoking your ambition.
We looked over quite a few of such mountains and have narrowed down three of the Asia’s best mountains you must visit. Each one of these have something different to offer, and the experience that you’d get from your visits will surely last a lifetime.
You must already know about Indonesia and its heaven-on-earth Bali. But did you know that it’s not all that Indonesia has to offer? Indonesia is also home to an active volcano called Mount Rinjani, the stunning beauty and magnificence of which makes it an absolute killer (pun intended). In fact, the sight of Mount Rinjani is so majestic that it’s a must-visit mountain of Asia.
Rising to a stellar height of 3,726 meters, Mount Rinjani is not only one of the highest mountains of South East Asia but also a site of one of the largest eruptions that the world has ever seen in the last 10,000 years. Although the latest eruption of Mount Rinjani was as recent as September 2016, this volcano is safe for climbing and attracts thousands of trekkers, climbers, and adventurers each year. Even though the volcano is considered active, the active part of the volcano is situated well-away from the trails and sits on top of a lake. The volcanic activities are also monitored closely so that no tourist or trekker is every directly under the threat of an eruption.
The best thing about Mount Rinjani is that you don’t have to be a professional mountaineer to scale it. Rather, the paths and trails that lead up to the summit are fairly easy to navigate and well-established. The ascent to the top of Rinjani usually begins from the side of Sembalun and ascents are often organized by authorized trekking companies to minimize any unfortunate circumstances. There are many trekking packages available for you to choose from, and you can decide how many days you want to spend in conquering this beautiful combination of lava, rock, and ash. Climbing all the way to the top of the crater rim can take a minimum of two days while longer and more comfortable trekking experiences can last to up to 4 days.
Owing to its extensive National Park and breathtaking beauty, UNESCO recognized Mount Rinjani as a UNESCO Global Geopark and further strengthened its position as a site of global importance. Throughout your journey to the top of Mount Rinjani, you will be surrounded by stunning sights of both the volcano and the lake in its crater. The sky’s hues will change continuously, from light pink to purple to deeper shades of blue and black. If you’re into star gazing, each night you spend will give you a new opportunity to breathe in your surroundings. The active volcano in all its glory, the shimmering crater lake below, and the backdrop of twinkling stars in ever-changing colors of the sky will all come together to give you an absolutely beautiful experience.
With its highest peak standing at 2,160 meters tall, Mount Huashan in China is synonymous to all words related to danger you can think of. If you’re in Asia and you want the ultimate mountaineering experience, complete with the adrenaline-rush, breathtaking sights, and an extremely boastful story of having tea at an unthinkable height, then Mount Huashan is the mountain for you.
The location of Mount Huashan is ideal for tourists visiting China. It stands just a few hours away from Xi’an, an already famous city frequented by many visitors each year. Unlike other mountains, Mount Huashan is not made solely for mountaineering purposes. So while you can relish in the thrill that its dangerous plank walk will afford to you, you can actually begin with immersing yourself in the cultural and religious atmosphere shrouding Huashan.
In fact, Huashan and its surrounding area is occupied by a number of monks, nuns, and pilgrims which goes to show how religiously significant the mountain is. Mount Huashan is one of the five sacred mountains in China and also an esteemed site of pilgrimage for the Chinese people. This religious significance dates as far back as the 2nd century BC when a Taoist temple was erected at the base of the mountain near the West Gate. These still-standing shrines and temple at Huashan’s base make the experience of visiting and the eventually conquering this mountain an extremely sacred and spiritual one. To add on, the view from the base of the mountain is flush with greenery so being there is also a good way of reconnecting your soul with nature.
Getting to the summit doesn’t necessarily require you to be a mountaineer and there is more than just one way of getting to the top. You can choose to join many others as they make their way up the summit in cable cars. Or, more interestingly, you can choose to stay true to the Chinese legend which states that the only right path up Mount Huahan is a 12km trek which took nearly 3,000 years to build.
Although the mountain has five peaks, it’s the southern peak of Huashan which is the most famous for its “death plank walk”. Hiking up to the plank walk can take anywhere between 6 to 7 hours, but these few hours of hiking will be nothing when compared to the full challenge of the dangerous plank walk. The entire way up to the infamous plank walk is extremely aesthetically pleasing as it begins alongside a river and then opens into numerous steep staircases made out of stone. As you climb higher and higher, you will be continuously surrounded by greenery and nature, something you cannot experience if you choose to take the cable car. Also, because of its reputation of danger, the southern peak is relatively more solitary than the other peaks. So the trail up to the plank walk will be not be overly crowded and you’ll be able to have the perfect trekking experience.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the dangerous nature of Mount Huashan, especially its plank walk at the southern peak, is not merely a product of hype. Rather, there is no lie in the fact that the trails pose significant danger to the trekkers, with some sources citing up to 100 fatalities each year. However, the planks and treks have been reinforced and maintained to allow adventurous trekkers to continue getting the adrenaline rush they seek in all things challenging.
The plank walk itself is nothing more than a series of wooden plans bolted to the side of the mountain. At places, you can even see through the gaps in the planks and sometimes there’s nothing more than just an iron chain to hold onto. One condition of walking the death plank is to get a compulsory harness for yourself. However, many find the harness flimsy and not strong enough to depend on entirely. But when all is said and done, getting to the world’s remotest teahouse and drinking the bitter yet fragrant tea at the end of a death-defying hike will surely be an experience you will never forget.
K2 Mountain is known by many names such as Mount Godwin Austen or Qogir Feng. But all these names take a back seat when the real identity of this magnificent mountain is revealed. K2 is the second highest mountain of the world, towering to a glorious height of 8,611 meters. For those who find Mount Everest way out of their reach, K2 is the next best thing that the world has to offer, it’s the mountain which will both satiate their ambition and provide a hike challenging enough for them to boast about it.
K2 is part of the Karakoram Mountain Ranges and simultaneously exists in the Chinese-administered part of Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Although the idea of hiking up to the K2 base camp, which is a return journey of about 14 days, can seem daunting to even the most enthusiastic of mountaineers, the view that K2 offers to its visitors is unparalleled in beauty and grandeur. Unlike Mount Everest which only affords teasing views of its summit, the view of K2’s primary peak is unhindered by any satellites peaks. This makes the end result even more rewarding and fulfilling for those who yearn for the view of the world’s highest peaks. To add on, the trail to the K2 base camp is not as overwhelmingly crowded as the trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. Therefore, K2 is definitely one of the 3 best Asian Mountains you should visit if you want a more intimate and quiet yet exceedingly rewarding mountaineering experience.
The base camp of K2 is located at the height of 5,150 meters, which means that the hike and trek all the way up takes not only enthusiasm, but also genuine effort and skills. The way up to the base camp starts in a village known as Askole located in the Shugar Valley. From Askole, the hikers make their way along the Braldu Valley in the Skardu Distirct of Gilgit-Baltistan after which they start mounting the Baltoro Glacier to reach Concordia. Even before reaching the base camp which is only 12 km away from Concordia, one can take in the breathtaking view of four of the world’s highest peaks altogether from one place.
It only takes a day for the trekkers to reach the first camp which is usually situated just below the peak of Bakhor Das. As soon as the trekkers hike past the green valley of Askore, the topography takes a sharper and steeper turn. Cliffs and summits will rise around you and you will find yourself surrounded by granite tops as you make your way further up from your first camp.
Once you reach your first major milestone of the Baltoro Glacier, you will be able to view the first of the towering peaks. These include the peaks the Masherbrum and Muztagh Tower which stand at a breathtaking height of 7,000 meters. Soon after these, you will also be able to view the even more magnificent mountain tops which stand at a height of about 8,000 meters. This is where most of the trekkers get their first taste of satisfaction, and also get motivated to continue going all the way up to the K2 base camp.
The second major milestone before the hikers eventually reach the K2 base camp is their arrival at Concordia. From Concordia, the final destination is not very far. It’s also at Concordia where you will get the first glimpse of K2 which will definitely be a refreshing and a rejuvenating sight for all those gearing up for the final ascent. Furthermore, the campsite at Concordia is considered one of the best campsites of the world so by the time you are ready to make you way up to the K2 base camp, your spirits will be higher than ever.
There are two ways to go about the final ascent. You can either choose to make a round trip through Concordia which would take you to the camp in a day, or you can decide to hike up to the Broad Peak base and spend a night at the campsite before finally making your way up to the K2 base camp. Once you reach the K2 base camp, you’ll realize that no colorful flags or tents will be waiting to welcome you. Rather, the only witness to your arrival will be a pile of rocks which will also help you in recognizing the area as the K2 base camp. Just like the trail that precedes the base camp, you will find that the camp itself is not as crowded as that of Mount Everest. In fact, it is entirely possible that there might not be anyone apart from you and your team of hikers at the top. All of this makes the hiking experience extremely intimate and worthwhile, as the fulfillment of conquering the second highest peak of the world will be absolutely raw and unadulterated.
The way back from the K2 base camp is pretty much the same as the way up and will not prove to be an extraordinary challenge if you choose to stick with the same trail. The best months to take on the second highest peak of the world are July and August but the mountaineering season lasts from the middle of June to the middle of September. Other months can add the challenge of dealing with harsh weather conditions to the already challenging adventure of hiking to the K2 base camp.
Some other things to keep in mind about trekking to the K2 base camp in general include the complete unavailability of any facilities like toiletries and the relatively harsher accommodation facilities in the form of tents pitched on rock and ice. Campsites have only two-person tents available so keep in mind you will have to share if you’re hiking alone. If you’re on the lookout for one of the best Asian mountains that you can possibly find, then you should definitely consider checking out the K2 Mountain. After all, not many people get to boast about having conquered the second highest mountain top of the world.
From Mount Rinjani to K2 Mountain, there’s so much that Asian mountains have to offer that you can safely put visiting these mountains at the top of your bucket list. Each one of the mountains listed above will enable you to have the exciting mountaineering experience but will, at the same time, afford you the luxury of being closer to nature and the beauty it has to offer. From granites peaks to luscious forests, you will get the complete package of mountaineering experience. Of course, how well you are able to scale the mountains will depend on how fit for the purpose you are. But how well you are able to live your life to the fullest will depend on how excited you are about new regions, new sights, and new challenged. These 3 Asian mountains will give you all three. So, what are you waiting for? Go get ready to explore the forces of nature that work their magic in culturally-rich Asia.