7 Mountains You Forgot to Climb
They're all spectacular. Some are easy to climb, some nearly impossible, but they're all underrated.
Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on the continent of Australia, in the Snowy Mountains, and reaches 7,310 feet (2,228 meters). It's also a very popular place to visit via a road to Charlotte Pass, from which it's a moderate 5-mile (8-kilometer) hike to the summit. No special training or gear is required, just average good health.
You can also try the shorter 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) approach from Thredbo, which even has a year-round chairlift. The two paths come together at the 6,900-foot (2,100-meter) Rawson Pass, the site of Australia's highest public toilet. Be prepared for snow from June to at least the end of October. There's more info at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Kosciuszko-National-Park/Kosciuszko-walk/walking.
At 17,057 feet (5,199 meters), Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa and is located some 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the higher, more famous and far more visited Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kenya offers loads of challenging rock and ice climbing possibilities and is rich in alpine meadows and exotic, high-altitude wildlife. All this, along with the lack of crowds, makes it among the most beautiful expeditions in the East African mountains.
The main two summits are Batian and Nelion, which can be attained by technical climbing up rock or ice. But the third-highest peak, Point Lenana, is the best for guided treks. More basic information can be found at http://www.summitpost.org/mount-kenya/150259.
A couple of mountain ranges east of the famous Mount Whitney of the Sierra Nevada is the 14,252-foot (4,344 meters) White Mountain Peak, just 253 feet (77 meters) lower than Whitney, but a world apart. This is not a jagged granite spire like those of the Sierra, but a craggy mix of rock types that is far easier to ascend. Along the way you can see the Earth's oldest living things -- the trees of the bristlecone forest at between 9,200 and 11,500 feet (2,800 to 3,500 meters).
To reach this summit you need only hike 14 miles (23 kilometers) round trip, from the locked gate about 2 miles before Barcroft station. The climb is less than 2,600 feet (800 meters), but at such high elevation, be sure you're ready for the thin air.
A good place to get more info is Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Mountains_%28California%29.
Telescope Peak in California is not especially high, at 11,331 feet (3,545 meters), but it just happens to overlook the lowest place on Earth: Death Valley's Badwater Basin, at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level. As a result, this peak gives you a stunning view of perhaps the greatest vertical drop in the lower 48 United States.
The peak is located inside Death Valley National Park and offers a much needed break from the world-record heat of the valley in the summer. There's a road up to the a ridge from where you can hike 14 miles (23 kilometers) round trip to the peak in a day. From the hot valley below, the snowy peak provides a tantalizing view of a different world.
The best information on current conditions is via the website of the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm.
Another "fourteener" that is often overlooked is Colorado's Crestone Peak. At 14,294 feet (4,357 meters), Crestone is the seventh-highest peak in Colorado and is surrounded by similarly lofty peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range. It's one of the most dangerous and difficult climbs in Colorado and accidents are frequent, usually due to falls or lightning strikes.
The easiest route isn't very direct, with a lot of elevation lost and reclimbed before you reach the summit. Only experienced mountaineers should consider this one.
But if that applies to you, and you need more to scare you off, consider Crestone Peak's sister: Crestone Needle. She's even harder and was once considered impossible to climb. For more about the formidable Crestones, check out http://www.summitpost.org/crestone-peak/150435.
Everybody has heard of Mount Fuji, but few have heard of the 10,476-foot (3,193 meter) Mount Kita, Japan's second-highest peak. It's located in the Akaishi Mountains, a.k.a. the "Southern Alps."
The mountain area around Mount Kita is one of the most popular in Japan. Trailheads for ascending are at Hirogawara to the east and Ryōmata to the west. However, most people choose to climb from Hirogawara, where there are more services. If you aren't averse to sleeping at high elevation, there are two huts near the summit and a campground.
Once you reach the summit and if you have time, take the ridge trail to Mount Aino and Mount Nōtori. There's more climbing information at http://www.summitpost.org/kita-dake/153497.
The Reeks of Macgillycuddy in the Republic of Ireland's County Kerry aren't very high, but they somehow convey the feeling of great height without the headaches and gasping of high altitude. Nor are they necessarily easy, as people have been known to fall to their deaths from the narrow ridges that lead to the peaks. The Reeks contain the highest mountains in Ireland. The top peak is Carrauntoohil, at 3,405 feet (1,038 meters), then Beenkeragh at 3,314 feet (1,010 meters) and Caher at 3,284 feet (1,001 meters). These and other lesser peaks were carved by the same glaciers that created the famously beautiful Lakes of Killarney to the north. A good resource for climbing the Reeks is "Carrauntoohil & MacGillycuddy's Reeks -- A Walking Guide," by Jim Ryan: http://www.theirelandwalkingguide.com/publications/guidebooks/carrauntoohilandmacgillycuddysreeks-awalkingguide.