Some may call this the cheater’s collection of mountaineering feats, but we prefer to think of it as sensational bucket-list challenges that are totally within everyone’s reach. It’s important to note that not all of these ‘easy mountain peaks’ are a total breeze. Some are darn hard work. But what they have in common is that not a single one requires an Olympic-athlete level of fitness, they don’t call for technical climbing ability, and they are all doable in just a single-day outing. This trifecta, in our eyes, makes them generally conquerable by one and all.
Mount Fuji, Japan
There are some excellent reasons why Japan’s Mt Fuji is one of the most climbed peaks on our planet. Not only is this snow-capped beauty ridiculously picturesque, but it is also one of the most exciting amateur mountain peaks to conquer. The tip of Mt Fuji stands at an impressive 3776m, and several trails and stations along its flanks make it easy to cover as much of the altitude as you like by road, with the last point (Kawaguchi-ko, Station 5) leaving you with ‘only’ an 8hr climb to the peak, including plenty of photo breaks.
Many people choose to climb Mt Fuji at night to reach the peak by dawn (yes, it’s stunning), although climbing during the day offers a visual feast the entire time.
Mount Sinai, Egypt
Mt Sinai recently made headline news when local animal welfare agencies bemoaned the torturous use of donkeys to cart overweight foreign tourists up to the peak. I mean, really, the poor things! Be a conscientious animal lover and choose to climb Mt Sinai under the steam of your own legs, and I assure you, the whole experience will be much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Climbing Mt Sinai is not hard work at all, more like a leisurely stroll, and honestly best done from sunrise onwards. Most religious believers (and tourists) head up to the holy peak in the very early hours of the morning (like, 2am) to reach the mountain peaks by sunrise and say their prayers, which can make both the trail, and the top itself, rather crowded. Set off from the base at 7am instead and you’ll reach the 2285m-high peak of Mt Sinai just in time to enjoy a quiet and contemplative picnic lunch. The starting rocky landscape is spectacular at any time of day, and this hike is one of the most enjoyable things to do on the Sinai Peninsula. Have a few extra days? Try the Sinai Trail: a 46-day sea to summit route that is Egypt’s first (and best) long distance hike.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
Once upon a time, before mass tourism reached this remote corner of the Peruvian Andes, reaching Machu Picchu along the famous Inca Trail was the country’s real challenge. Nowadays, thanks to a luxury tourist train, one can reach the citadel with minimal effort. The challenge of climbing its sister mountain peaks of Huayna Picchu, however, is still very much on offer.
Machu Picchu’s lesser-known sister (standing tall behind the famed Inca site in the pic above), is a bit of a challenge, although mostly only for those who suffer vertigo. The climb is a bit on the hairy side, with a steep trail, eye-watering drops, and some scrambling which requires light finesse, but no technical climbing experience. Given the altitude, climbing Huayna Picchu does require a bit of fitness. Nevertheless, if you have nerves of steel and plenty of determination, there’s no reason why nearly everyone can’t bag this one.
Climbing up to the 2717m-high relatively easy mountain peaks of Huayna Picchu is one of the most underrated highlights in this neck of the woods, so if you can’t stomach a multi-day hike along the original Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu, you can at least feel like you’ve earned your visit. The trick to successfully conquering this peak in just a couple of hours (one way) is to take it easy. Step aside (to let others through) and take plenty of rests and you should be just fine.
Klein Matterhorn, Switzerland
The Matterhorn is one of Europe’s most magnificent mountain peaks, renowned worldwide for being the iconic picture on Toblerone chocolates. The Matterhorn itself is certainly not an easy mountain peak to climb (a dozen people die every year trying to conquer it so best give that one a miss if you’re not experienced), but its lower and much more forgiving brother next door, the Klein Matterhorn, is a whole different story. Why? Because some genius thought it would a great idea to build a cable-car to the top!
The Klein Matterhorn aerial tramway does all the hard work for you (ok, that’s a little bit of cheating) leaving you with merely 10 easy, wonderful, enjoyable meters to cover on foot to reach the peak. The tram (and newly-opened glacier cable-car) stop at 3883m and is the highest point you can reach by cable car in all of Europe and a sensational spot from where to admire the nearby Matterhorn in all its incredible, alpine glory.
If you really must climb something in this startling region, then use this as your starting point for reaching the peak of Breithorn (you’ll see that too from the viewing platform) a ‘relatively’ easy climbing feat (3hrs, on average) but one that does require guidance and some snow-climbing equipment. See? Something for everyone!
Half Dome, California, USA
One of the most awe-inspiring granite monoliths in the Yosemite Valley is arguably easier to conquer than it would seem. Sure, you will have to scramble across a death-defying drop whilst holding on to a handrail in one section but, in the end, it’s actually a not-too-difficult peak to conquer.
Reaching the 2682m-high peak of Half Dome is certainly an exhilarating affair of its own accord, yet it’s the views from the top that make for the best rewards of all.