You cannot imagine how often I get calls from my friends, former clients, my friends' friends and even just occasional people. Everyone has the same question: “Listen, I’ve just climbed <Mountain Name> (insert here your version of mountain name) and I really liked it. Could you please recommend me somewhere else to go?”. A naive person might think that for me, a mountain guide with 15 years worldwide experience, the answer to this question is a piece of cake. However, it's not as easy as it seems. In order to help and give the right advice, I need to understand the reasons, goals, physical condition, pursuit of excellence, the financial side of the request, as well as many other nuances. Now try to imagine how difficult it is to solve this question as a novice: for him/her, all the mountains look similar and s/he has no idea which one to start from. And which one would follow? More experienced climbers are more versed in the matter, for example, they can say that, "Well, we've already been there, we don't want to go to that mountain, instead we want something similar to the previous climb, just in a different country / climate / time zone”, and so on. If you have a professional who can help you with this question, you're lucky. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time to study the issue and targeting your next climb. So, if you're not a fan of such popular collections like 7 Summits and 7 Volcanoes (that actually decide your destinations), then you could really have a dilemma about what to do next. I decided to write this short essay in order to help novices and beginners to understand the issue of choice.
There is only one main advice: assume a reasonable approach to the process of choosing. If you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, it doesn't mean that you can already go to Everest or Denali. Pick up something similar, but add a new element. For example, after Kilimanjaro you can test yourself in South America climbing such mountains as Antisana or Acotango. These mountains have the same difficulty as Kilimanjaro, however in order to climb them, you will need to learn such skills, as moving on steep rock or snow terrain and using crampons. If you have already been on Mont Blanc, the next step may be more difficult from a technical point of view, such as Matterhorn or at a higher peak, such as Elbrus.
In my opinion, all the climbs can be divided into five classes: trekking, pseudo-technical, technical, high-altitude and high-altitude technical. For example, if you are satisfied in a trekking climbs, you may stay within this class your entire climbing career. If staying in one class seem too boring, you can jump from class to class until deciding the future of your climbing career.
In general, trekking climbs do not require any mountaineering skills, such as using crampons or ice axe, rock climbing, and knot tying techniques. In this class, you can evolve from very simple to more difficult climbs. Alternatively, your roadmap may look as follows: from climbing Mount Kosciuszko (analogues are Ben Nevis, Brevent, Teide, Sinai, Olympus, Vesuvius, Etna, Marmolada, Fujiyama, Mount Whitney, Koryakskaya Sopka) you can go to Orizaba, Kilimanjaro, or take a trek to the Everest Base Camp and climb Kala Patthar.
Pseudo-technical class implies the climbs up to 6000 meters, mostly by classic routes. These climbs are essentially similar to trekking, but you will need such basic mountaineering skills, as using crampons and ropes. The most popular mountains of this class are Monte Pissis, Monte Pisco, Castor,Ararat, Huayna Potossi, Dent Blanche, Monte Rosa, Demavand, Toubkal, Gran Paradiso, Pollux, Elbrus, Mont Blanc, Acotango, Antisana and Cotopaxi.
To climb in the high-altitude class you will also need the basic mountaineering skills, but you need to be able to use them above 6000 meters. In order to develop your high-altitude climbing you may consider the following peaks – Island Peak, Mera Peak, Chimborazo, Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, Nevado Sajama, Llullaillaco, Lenin Peak, Muztagh Ata and even Cho-Oyu.
The technical class is not focused on the height of the mountains (which usually do not exceed 6000 meters), but on the difficulty of the route. Here you will have to apply such advanced skills as the ability to use an ice ax and fixed ropes on steep rocky or icy terrains, as well as belaying and rappelling techniques. To climb in this class you may consider such mountains as Mount Kenia, Matterhorn, Eiger, Mount Cook, Ushba, Mount Aspiring, Mount Tasman and Alpamayo.
Finally, the class of high-altitude technical climbs, whose name speaks for itself - combines height and difficulty. The only limit here is the sky, as some travel agencies even began to sell commercial climbs to Mount K2. An example of your roadmap here could be Ama Dablam, Huascaran, Yerupaja, Denali, Khan-Tengri, Ismoil Somoni Peak, Pumori and Everest.
If you still have questions about how to choose a destination for your next climb, then I recommend you to take advantage of the unique tool ‘Explore’, created by Mountain Planet. Pick the next climb by using such filters as climbing season, activity level, desired elevation and even the travel cost. In addition, you can find lists of recommended gear and projected itineraries, which have been tested by experienced climbers registered on Mountain Planet. Apart of route selection, the platform gives an opportunity to check a global register for recreational expeditions and commercial tours, as well as pick up a personal mountain guide.
I also included below a few tables containing detailed information about each class - mountains, routes, elevation, climbing seasons, countries and ranges. All data within each class is sorted from simple to complex. Enjoy!