Rock Climbing


Ice Climbing


Backcountry Skiing


Sergey Kofanov

40 years, Australia

1 year ago


Classification of Guided Climbs according to Mountain Planet
Click to enlarge

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!


Mountain Name Popular Route Elevation Climbing Season Country Parent Range Activity Level
Ben Nevis Carn Mor Dearg 1344 m / 4409 ft All year round United Kingdom Grampian Mountains Easy
Kosciusko via Thredbo 2228 m / 7310 ft 1 Nov - 30 Apr Australia Australian Alps Easy
Vesuvius The Big Cone 1281 m / 4203 ft 1 Jun - 31 Aug Italy Campanian Apennines Easy
Sinai Normal Route 2285 m / 7497 ft All year round Egypt Levant Ranges Easy
Brevent Normal Route 2524 m / 8281 ft All year round France Graian Alps Easy
Olympus Prionia - Refuge 'A' - Mytikas 2918 m / 9573 ft 1 May - 31 Oct Greece Balkan Peninsula Mountains Easy
Pico de Teide Montana Blanca 3718 m / 12198 ft All year round Spain Canary Islands Easy/ Moderate
Etna South Route 3344 m / 10971 ft 1 May - 31 Oct Italy Sicilian Apennines Easy/ Moderate
Fujiyama Kawaguchiko Route 3776 m / 12389 ft 1 Jul - 15 Sep Japan Japanese Archipelago Mountains Moderate
Whitney Normal Route 4418 m / 14495 ft 1 May - 31 Oct United States Sierra Nevada Moderate
Koryakskaya Sopka South-East Ridge 3456 m / 11339 ft 1 Jun - 31 Aug Russia Eastern Ridge Moderate/ Challenging
Orizaba Jamapa Glacier 5636 m / 18491 ft 1 Nov - 31 Mar Mexico Cordillera Neovolcanica Moderate/ Challenging
Marmolada West Ridge 3 343 m / 10 968 ft 15 Jun - 30 Sep Italy Dolomites Moderate/ Challenging
Kala Patthar Everest Base Camp Trek 5643 m / 18514 ft 01 Apr - 30 Jun;

01 Sep-30 Nov;

Nepal Himalaya Moderate/ Challenging
Kilimanjaro Marangu Gate 5895 m / 19341 ft All year round Tanzania East African Plateau Moderate/ Challenging


Mountain Name Popular Route Elevation Climbing Season Country Parent Range Activity Level
Jebel Toubkal South Face 4167 m / 13671 ft All year round Morocco Atlas Mountains Moderate
Greater Ararat Normal Route 5137 m / 16854 ft 1 Jun - 30 Sep Turkey Armenian Highlands Moderate/ Challenging
Castor Normal Route 4228 m / 13871 ft 15 Jun - 30 Sep Switzerland Pennine Alps Moderate/ Challenging
Pollux Normal Route 4091 m / 13422 ft 1 Jun - 15 Sep Switzerland Pennine Alps Moderate/ Challenging
Gran Paradiso Italian Normal Route 4061 m / 13324 ft 15 Jun - 30 Sep Italy Graian Alps Moderate/ Challenging
Nevado Pisco Normal Route 5752 m / 18871 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Peru Cordillera Central Moderate/ Challenging
Monte Rosa Swiss Normal Route 4634 m / 15203 ft 1 Jun - 15 Sep Switzerland Pennine Alps Challenging
Mont Blanc via Gouter Ridge 4810 m / 15781 ft 1 Jun - 15 Sep France/ Italy Graian Alps Challenging
Antisana Normal Route 5753 m / 18875 ft 1 Nov - 31 Jul Ecuador Cordillera Oriental Challenging
Elbrus South Normal Route 5642 m / 18511 ft 1 Jun - 30 Sep Russia Central Caucasus Challenging
Damavand South Route 5671 m / 18606 ft 1 Jun - 15 Sep Iran Iranian Plateau Challenging
Dent Blanche South Ridge 4357 m / 14295 ft 01 Jul - 30 Sep Switzerland Pennine Alps Challenging/ Tough
Cotopaxi Normal Route 5897 m / 19347 ft 1 Nov - 31 Jul Ecuador Cordillera Oriental Challenging
Acotango Normal Route 6052 m / 19856 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Bolivia Cordillera Occidental Challenging


Mountain Name Popular Route Elevation Climbing Season Country Parent Range Activity Level
Huayna Potosi Normal Route 6088 m / 19974 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Bolivia Cordillera Oriental Moderate/ Challenging
Aconcagua Normal Route 6962 m / 22831 ft 15 Nov - 28 Feb Argentina Argentina-Chile Andes Challenging
Chimborazo Normal Route 6310 m / 20702 ft 1 Nov - 31 Jul Ecuador Cordillera Oriental Challenging
Ojos del Salado Normal Route 6893 m / 22615 ft 15 Nov - 28 Feb Chile Argentina-Chile Andes Challenging
Island Peak Normal Route 6165 m / 20226 ft 1 Oct - 30 Nov; 1 Apr - 30 Jun Nepal Himalaya Challenging/ Tough
Mera Peak Normal Route 6476 m / 21247 ft 1 Oct - 30 Nov; 1 Apr - 30 Jun Nepal Himalaya Challenging/ Tough
Nevado Sajama South West Ridge 6542 m / 21463 ft 15 Apr - 31 Oct Bolivia Cordillera Occidental Challenging
Cerro Llullaillaco North West Face 6730 m / 22080 ft 1 May - 31 Oct Chile Argentina-Chile Andes Challenging
Muztagh Ata West Ridge 7546 m / 24757 ft 1 Jul - 31 Aug China Pamir Mountains Tough
Lenin Peak Normal Route 7134 m / 23406 ft 15 Jun - 31 Aug Kyrgyzstan Trans-Alay Range Tough/ Extreme
Cho Oyu North-West Ridge 8188 m / 26864 ft 1 Sep - 30 Nov; 15 Mar - 31 May China Himalaya Extreme


Mountain Name Popular Route Elevation Climbing Season Country Parent Range Activity Level
Mount Kenya Chogoria 5199 m / 17057 ft All year round Kenya East African Plateau Moderate
Dent du Geant Normal Route 4013 m / 13166 ft 1 Jun - 15 Sep France Graian Alps Challenging
Matterhorn Swiss Normal Route 4478 m / 14692 ft 1 Jul - 31 Oct Switzerland Pennine Alps Challenging
Mount Aspiring Normal Route 3033 m / 9951 ft 20 Nov - 15 Feb New Zealand Southern Alps Challenging
Eiger West Flank 3970 m / 13025 ft 1 Jun - 30 Sep Switzerland Bernese Alps Challenging/ Tough
Mount Cook Via Linda Glacier 3754 m / 12316 ft 20 Nov - 15 Feb New Zealand Southern Alps Challenging/ Tough
Mount Tasman Normal Route 3498 m / 11476 ft 20 Nov - 15 Feb New Zealand Southern Alps Challenging/ Tough
Alpamayo French Direct 5957 m / 19544 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Peru Cordillera Occidental Tough
Ushba South-West Ridge 4700 m / 15420 ft 1 Jun - 30 Sep Georgia Greater Caucasus Tough/ Extreme


Mountain Name Popular Route Elevation Climbing Season Country Parent Range Activity Level
Denali West Buttress 6195 m / 20325 ft 15 Apr - 15 Jul United States Alaska Range Tough
Huascaran South Face 6746 m / 22133 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Peru Cordillera Occidental Tough
Ama Dablam South-West Ridge 6812 m / 22349 ft 1 Sep - 30 Nov; 15 Mar - 31 May Nepal Himalaya Tough/ Extreme
Yerupaja Normal Route 6617 m / 21709 ft 1 May - 30 Sep Peru Cordillera Occidental Tough/ Extreme
Khan Tengri North-East Rib 7010 m / 22999 ft 1 Jul - 31 Aug Kazakhstan Tien Shan Extreme
Pumori Normal Route 7161 m / 23494 ft 1 Mar - 31 May; 1 Sep - 30 Nov Nepal Himalaya Extreme
Ismoil Somoni Peak via Borodkin Rib 7495 m / 24590 ft 15 Jul - 31 Aug Tajikistan Akademiya Nauk Range Extreme
Everest via South Col 8848 m / 29029 ft 1 Apr - 30 Jun; 1 Sep - 31 Oct Nepal Himalaya Extreme
K2 Abruzzi Spur 8611 m / 28251 ft 15 May - 15 Sep Pakistan Karakorum Extreme+

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