At 29,029 feet, Mount Everest may be a little out of reach for the average Joe. Even with extensive climbing experience, the $65,000 price tag can make the daunting peak unattainable. So what if you have the irresistible urge to explore (vertically) but aren’t an experienced mountaineer or eccentric millionaire?
Here are some of the world’s most climbable mountains that won’t cost your children’s tuition.Credit: GÃ¶ran (KartlÃ¤sarn) / photo on flickr
Jebal Toubkal, Morocco
At 13,671 ft Jebal Toubkal is the highest peak in Northern Africa. Stretching from Morocco to Tunisia, the Atlas mountain range is characterized by alien, desert scenery and remote mountain villages. Using the small village of Imlil as your base, hear the mezzuine call to prayer as you make your way towards this incredible Muslim monolith. A non-technical climb, Jebal Toubkal can be completed in two days; the first day (seven hours) to a mountain refuge and the second day (ten hours) to the summit and return to Imlil. Due to the vastly increased value of the US and Canadian dollar in Morocco, a guide is recommended. Costing a meager $40 a day will ensure you follow the correct trail and help support the local economy. Upon your descent be sure to spend some time wandering the extraordinary souks of Marrakech, a scenic 48 miles away. This extensive market labyrinth and UNESCO world heritage site is also home to Dejemaa El Fna, one of the busiest squares in Africa. Filled with snake charmers, acrobats, musicians and storytellers this cultural mecca is a must for any adventure seeker.
Mount Sinai, Egypt
Considered one of the holiest mountains on Earth, prepare yourself for biblical bumper carts as you join this incredibly popular mountain pilgrimage. At only 7,497 ft the climb is relatively short but when combined with Sinai’s historical significance, it is more than worth the four-hour trek. According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, the biblical Mount was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments, although the location has been hotly disputed. Many begin the trek at midnight in order to catch the first rays of the rising sun. If, however, you’re planning a solitary journey of religious contemplation, think again; hoards of faithful jostle for position while camel hustlers and children renting blankets fill every corner. Regardless of your faith or disdain for crowds, Sinai and its appeal is undeniable. Nestled at its base is the fascinating St. Catherine’s Monestary, the worlds oldest working Christian monastery and another remarkable UNESCO world heritage site.
The Schilthorn, SwitzerlandCredit: Mark Howells-Mead / photo on flickr
James Bond ascended its peak and so can you. Accessible from the Swiss mountain town of Murren, the stunning Schilthorn was the backdrop for the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. At 9,873 ft this alpine summit is a steady three-hour climb littered with alpine meadows, snow-capped peaks and a panoramic view stretching from the Bernese Alps and the Juras up to the Vosges and the Black Forest. With a clearly defined trail, the route is measured by the amount of time it takes local seniors to scale the peak. If that doesn’t motivate you, the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria (one of the highest in the world) might. Sure it’s a little touristy but for good reason; everyone deserves to experience the grandeur of the Swiss Alps. Although the local accommodations are a little pricey and the hamburgers $13.00, the climb itself is free and can easily be scaled without the services of a guide.
Whatever your budget or experience level, the thrill of a mountain ascent is within your reach. With a little research and adventuresome spirit the joy of travel can take you to unimaginable heights. So grab a backpack, get away from the 9 to 5 and find your own vertical challenge.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...”
â€• John Muir