Visit the 5 Highest Elevations around the World
For most people, mountains inspire feelings of catharsis and spiritual rejuvenation. Trekking and hiking help people reconnect with nature and take a break from the extremely busy routines of their everyday lives. This gives them a chance to be exposed to the nature’s wilderness, stunning landscape and discover a biologically diverse world tucked away in the gigantic mountainous peaks. For climbers and mountaineers, summiting peaks is a physical and emotional adventure that feeds their ambition and, thus, mountains become their all-time favorite spots to experience thrill, excitements, danger, but also unadulterated joy.
The five highest elevation around the world are over 8,000 meters and are a daunting challenge to anyone who wishes to climb them due to their topography and extreme environmental conditions. Regardless of the dangers posed by these high peaks, each year climbers and mountaineers pack their bags and take part in expeditions to ascend these huge mountains. These nature’s wonderlands not only provide them with a chance to climb thousands of meter but also are an opportunity to interact with locals and explore the culture and tradition of the mountainous areas.
Below is a guide for the top five highest mountains around the world with their specifications and challenges that they have to offer the ambitious climbers.
Mount Everest is not just the highest mountain peak of Asia, but also, it’s the highest peak of the entire world. This formidable mountain is situated between Nepal and Tibet and was first summited in 1953. Since then it has seen thousands of successful expeditions owing to the improvements in technology, infrastructure and information systems. These advances have made it less dangerous to summit the peak of the highest elevation in the world. The height of the mountain is more than eight thousand meters, 8850 meters to be precise which is roughly 29000 feet. It’s also believed that the mountain is came into being around 50 to 60 million years back while there is a steady increase in the height of the mountain every year. The best time to climb Everest is the month of May.
To reach the mountain there are two ways. Either you can access it through Nepal or through Tibet. Depending which country you choose to begin your travel, you can then decide which route to take to climb up. It could either be Nepal’s Southeast Ridge or Tibet’s North Ridge. From there you will then travel to your basecamp from where you will officially begin trekking. You will find camps along your trek that are filled with essential supplies such bottled oxygen. You will also have locals as guides who will help you climb the gigantic peak. These people belong to various ethnic groups such as the Sherpas and are expert in climbing the Everest. Some of them have been a part of more than twenty successful expeditions.
The environment of Mount Everest is quite hostile and dangerous due to the extremely high elevation. This causes low pressures of air which significantly reduces the amount of oxygen that is available to the mountaineers for breathing. However, there are alternatives such as bottled oxygen that help the climbers in summiting the peak. All these dangers may look daunting but once you will summit the peak, you will be astonished to see the breathtaking views from the top. Summiting the peak will give you a sense of accomplishment and you will be mesmerized for a very long time. You will be literally at the top of the world. This feeling is next to none.
There are still some routes that are not discovered yet and if you love challenges and are adventurous enough, then you can definitely try exploring those routes. The Fantasy Ridge and the Everest Horseshoe Traverse are still said to be “unclimbed” and will be very challenging for those who wish to explore them. So there you have it. Of the highest elevations in the world, this is #1.
K2 is next on the list of highest elevations of the world following Mount Everest. It, like Everest, is another one of the great Asian mountains and it’s also over eight thousand meters in terms of height; 8,611 meters, to be precise. It stands tall on the border between Pakistan and China and is usually called as the ‘Savage Mountain’ since it’s quite difficult to climb and the fatality rate of climbers trying to summit it is also quite high. It was first summited by Italians in 1954 and since then even though there had been many expeditions to the mountain, only few have been successful.
Before starting the trek, permits from Pakistan’s Ministry of Tourism are required. There is also a mandatory briefing that you will have to attend where some famous mountaineers are also likely to be present. Usually, after this briefing the tourists are given a short tour of the capital, Islamabad. From Islamabad, you can either drive or fly to Skardu which is the capital of Gilgit Baltistan province. If you choose to drive, it will take you up to 2 days to reach Skardu. However, the plus point is that you will be able to discover the culture of the region along with gorgeous landscape of the Karakoram Highway and the Indus River gorge. You will also get to see the first breathtaking view of Nanga Parbat along your drive. The trek will start from Askole which and to reach it from Skardu you will have to ride a jeep. The trek to K2’s basecamp will take up to 14 days once started from Askole. Usually, the mountain is not very crowded and you will find very few tents. This is plus point if you like to climb on your own without having several people around you.
The months that are fit for trekking K2 are July and August while the climbing season lasts till mid-September. Apart from these months, the mountain experiences excessive snow and the passes including the norther slopes are all snow-capped as well. Though even during the trekking season you may experience different weather conditions such as wind, snow, rain while the temperatures may drop a lot during the night. K2’s trek is more challenging than various Nepalese trails in many ways. The rivers also swell up causing footbridges to be washed away. This can add to the difficulty in climbing the second highest peak of the world. If you plan on spending any time around K2, then you may want to ensure that you’ve got a great set of trekking poles for your journey.
Kangchenjunga is the world’s third largest peak with an elevation exceeding eight thousand meters. It’s situated between Nepal and India and the only mountain in the latter country that is over 8000 meters. The name of the mountain comes from Tibetan language and translates to “The five treasures of high snow” in English. This gigantic mountain is basically made up of five peaks which are classified as Kangchenjunga Main, West, Central, South and Kangbachen. Out of these five four peaks are over 8000 meters in height.
For the first time the mountain was summited by a British duo of climbers in 1955. Locals living nearby believe that there are mountain gods who occupy the peak and, therefore, the peak should not be disturbed by the climbers. This is a tradition that all the climbers, including the first ones to ascent it, followed out of respect for the locals’ belief. Thus, mountaineers even now stop short of the summit instead.
The entire mountainous region is well-guarded by wildlife conservation efforts in Nepal and India both. You will find a plethora of wildlife species here such as blue sheep, red panda and snow leopards. Kangchenjunga remains a hidden treasure and is not as popular as Everest or K2 are. There are multiple reasons for this unpopularity such as the lack of information available about the area and also the political unrest in Nepal from 1996 to 2006 that posed security issues to the tourists. This lack of fame has probably done good to the mountain since it stands preserved in its pristine state. The low number of visitors has prevented Kanchenjunga to fall prey to the problems like pollution and overcrowding, thus, allowing it to stay the same as it was years ago before being discovered.
To be able to visit this gorgeous peak you will need to have permit from Nepal’s Immigration Department if you are travelling to Kanchenjunga through Nepal. From Khatmandu, you can then take a flight to Bhadrapur and from there you will drive to Tapethok if you are taking the northern trek route to Kanchenjunga. After this journey you will travel towards the mountainous area on foot. This entire journey will give you the flavor of Nepalese culture while being surrounded by a stunning landscape.
The mountain is populated with Sherpa community and is not as difficult to trek as Everest or K2. All the North Kanchenjunga camps are being operated by the locals from the Ghunsa village located on the mountain. It’s a very personal trek since the number of climbers is low and you will be able to experience some very breathtaking landscapes along the trek as well.
Situated between Tibet and Nepal like Everest, Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world. With an elevation of 8516 meters, Lhotse has three summits. This huge mountain was first ascended by climbers in 1956 when they mistook it as an alternate route to Everest as Lhotse was thought of as the south peak of Mount Everest.
The expedition to this mountain begins from landing at Khatmandu and then flying to Lukla through the narrow airstrip. From Lukla then the climbers trek to the Lhotse basecamp which is almost a journey of 10 days. Along the trek you will pass through the Namche Bazar which constitutes the main Sherpa village. There are also two climbing season for Lhotse like all other Himalayan mountains. The first season is the pre-monsoon season that is between April and May while the second season is post-monsoon running between late September and October. Thus, unlike the other highest peaks of the world, Lhotse is pretty much more accessible to its visitors throughout the year and gives you ample options for the time to trek the mountain. The entire expedition will probably take you 7 weeks or 15 days roughly. You will also need a permit from the Nepalese authorities to climb up Lhotse.
Like all other gigantic peaks with elevations over 8000 meters, Lhotse is not an easy climb. Many climbers have lost their lives trying to summit the peak as it is usual at elevations so high. The last 300 meters of the climb are the most dangerous due to the presence of a gully that is very steep and filled with rocks, hence, exposing the climbers to an expected rock fall. It’s also recommended that you hire a guide or seek help from the local agencies in connecting you with yaks or porters so that you are not on your own in case of an emergency. Even though there are a lot of climbers trying to summit the peak, it’s always better to have either a formal guide or someone from the locals to help you throughout the expedition.
Being the fifth highest peak in the world, Makalu is also a technical mountain to climb. It has steep pitches with ridges as sharp as that of the edge of a knife. These features make it very technical and difficult to climb Makalu. There is also a considerable rock climbing before you actually summit the peak. It’s first summited in May of 1955 by a bunch of French climbers. Standing tall at an elevation of 8463 meters, Makalu is only 20 kilometers away from the highest peak, Mount Everest, and is located in the Makalu Barun National Park, Nepal which is a nature’s wonderland itself. There are two small settlements with seasonal herding at high elevations while the steepness of the mountain along with plenty of monsoon rains make the area a diverse bioclimatic zone having a plethora of wild species of plants and animals.
To reach the mountain you will first fly to Timlingtar from Khatmandu and then trek for about 12 days to reach the basecamp of Makalu. Along the trek you will be camping at several beautiful spots and will also get a one-day rest. From Makalu basecamp you will begin your ascent towards the peak of the mountain for about 4 weeks. After successfully climbing the mountain you will fly back to Timilingtar and to Khatmandu eventually. Best season to climb Makalu is the spring season and successful expeditions are yet to be seen in winter season.
Prior to its first successful expedition in 1955, it was studied and researched a lot by several Everest mountaineers. However, it was not attempted like other peaks in the Khumbu region until Everest was first successfully ascended in 1953.
It’s definitely not easy to climb up such high elevations. These gigantic mountains are over 8000 meters high and due to their height the environments and weather conditions are not only extreme but also hostile. This is the reason why there have been a number of unsuccessful expeditions along with several deaths occurring while climbers try to summit the peaks. However, with the improvements in technology, research methods and information systems it has become much easier to successfully climb these mountains and, thus, the fatality rates have dropped down since the 1950’s.
Each of these highest peaks is unique and challenging in its own way which attracts several mountaineers from all corners of the world each year. While tourism in these areas have seen a steady growth due to the increasing popularity of the mountainous peaks, the locals have also been increasingly enthusiastic to participate in the expeditions as guides or hosts. Thus, the expeditions are helping the overall economic conditions of these mountainous areas.
There is still a lot left to be explored by the climbers. These, which are the highest elevations in the world, will offer you extreme levels of thrill, excitement, and adrenaline rushes, if you’re willing to be adventurous enough to take on these challenging treks. Climbing these mountains requires proper skills and it’s also advised that you consider hiring professional guides to help you in times of emergency. Also, it’s not possible for you to climb all these mountains in one year only given that they all have overlapping climbing seasons with treks lasting several days. It’s also possible that even though you are fully equipped and pan to summit these peaks successfully, however, due to unforeseen circumstances such as excessive snowfall or harsh weather conditions, you may not be able to climb high enough. Even then it’s okay since not all expeditions are successful and the journey to these mountains is an experience of its own. If you are interested in trekking and climbing, we hope this guide will be helpful and you will be able to choose the mountain peak that fits your preferences more and can be ascended with the level of skill you possess. Climbing mountains is not easy, but with determination, resilience, enthusiasm and the right set of skills you can stand on top of the world and feel empowered, successful and free.