Best Mountain Climbing Locations for Beginners


Even if you're nowhere near the Rockies, there are probably a couple of great mountain climbing locations for beginners near you. If you're just getting started with mountain climbing, you hardly need glaciers, barely livable altitudes, and sheer drops to contend with. You should cut your teeth on a mountain that is perfectly safe, yet still lots of fun. You can challenge yourself even on relatively small mountains, especially if you aren't already at an extremely high level of fitness. Train on a small, local mountain and you'll also get the opportunity to test your equipment and find out what works and what doesn't work for you personally. Then, when you've mastered your local peaks and you're kitted out with everything a pro mountain climber could need, you can save up some cash to travel to a more well-known and intimidating climb.

Mount Rainier
Just an hour's drive outside of Seattle, Washington, Mount Rainier is considered by experienced mountain climbers to be the world's best training mountain. Rainier has dozens of climbs you can choose from, some half day treks that are appropriate for kids and others that will require you to camp overnight and bring pickets and pulleys. You can buy a year pass for just $20 and spend the entire year trying out Rainier's many trails, gradually choosing trails that increase in difficulty. Rainier is technically an active volcano, but shows no signs of an impending eruption. Most mountain climbers visit between May and August; call the national park service ahead of time to make sure that your trail is open and not already full of climbers.

Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, located in Maine. Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine, towering one mile above sea level, and may have formerly been a volcano. Though Katahdin is definitely the biggest mountain in the vicinity, it's actually quite easy to climb. Most of the trails are day hikes, save for a couple of technical trails. Be aware before you head out to Katahdin that this mountain is more tightly regulated than most, thanks to the local people's desire to preserve the natural beauty of the park. Katahdin only sells a few climbing permits per day and is often sold out before 6AM during the busy summer months!

Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is California's most popular peak for mountain climbers, located in the Cascade Range along with Rainier to the north. That's because, on a single route, you'll encounter snowfields, glacial features, and rock moraine. Like Rainier and Katahdin, Shasta is full of fun and exciting climbing opportunities to people of every skill level. Make your climb during the summer to avoid avalanche and storm threats.

Mount Haleakala
Is snow really not your thing? Trek out to Maui's Mount Haleakala, an active volcano that covers 75 percent of the island. This mountain is so easy to climb that it's actually accessible by road. If you want to challenge yourself a bit, though, you can scale over 10,000 vertical feet of trail here in a single day. For an extra treat, make plans to camp out overnight, since the peak of Haleakala is one of the best spots on Earth for star gazing.

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