A Guide To The Three Trekking Peaks Of The Seven Summits
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
In case you’re new to mountaineering or didn’t know, the Seven Summits of the World are the highest mountains on each continent:
Africa - Kilimanjaro
Europe – Mount Elbrus
North America - Denali
South America – Aconcagua
Asia – Everest
Antarctica – Vinson Massif
Australia/Oceania – Mount Carstensz
In this guide, you’ll get a brief over view of the three peaks in the seven summits that you can trek and that do not require any technical skills. These are Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus and Aconcagua.
Location: Tanzania, Africa
Summit Altitude: 5,895m (19,341ft)
Duration: 5 to 10 days
Kilimanjaro is one of the seven Summits of the World and considered the easiest of all seven. There are 6 possible routes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. All of them varying in duration, price and difficulty. Kilimanjaro is a really fun mountain. The atmosphere, people and general spirit of the climb is jovial and relaxed. Of course it’s hard, especially the summit night push but in general, Kilimanjaro is really, really fun.
If you are looking to climb your first big peak, then this would be one of my suggestions. However, be warned. Fun does not mean that you don’t need to train and properly prepare for it. Training is essential. You will not make it to the summit without properly training.
If you need help with your training plan and aren’t satisfied with downloading a cookie cut training plan off the internet then checkout my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. I have written in detail the exact training steps you need to follow to create your own, personalised mountaineering & trekking specific training plan based on my High Altitude Training Formula, the 5 crucial cardiovascular and muscular systems that you should be training and a guide to using heart rate zones for training.
You’ll also learn absolutely everything you need to prepare for Kilimanjaro and any future mountains or treks including gear, nutrition, mindset and all the tips and tricks that only come with experience.
The other great thing with Kilimanjaro is that you don’t need any technical experience or some of the bigger and colder mountain gear, such as mountaineering boots. This means you can test out big peak climb before you have to invest in the more expensive gear.
Considering climbing Kilimanjaro? Make sure you read and learn about The Six Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes – How To Choose The Best Route For You
2. Mount Elbrus
Location: Russia, Europe
Summit Altitude: 5,642m (18,510ft)
Duration: 7 days
This is known as the second “easiest” of the seven summits. Although it is lower in altitude than Kilimanjaro, you will be required to use big mountaineering boots, crampons and an ice axe. If you’ve never had any experience with these three pieces of equipment and you want to climb Elbrus then make sure you book with a tour operator who has included half a day of skills into their itinerary. They should also teach you how to self-arrest and the very basics of rescuing someone out of a crevasse.
There are two routes to the summit of Mount Elbrus, the North and South route. The North route is the more challenging route between the two. The South route has a hotel at the base and huts on the mountain. Don’t expect a 5* experience but do expect four walls and a sheltered place to cook eat and rest in. The South route is also supported by cable cars and snow machines. The North route is much more basic with communal accommodation at the base and an even more basic High Camp setup.
Mount Elbrus is a tough mountain. Weather conditions can change suddenly, leading to electrical storms, white outs and severe temperature drops. I would not in a million years suggest this to be your first mountain. Unlike Kilimanjaro, I would not describe Mount Elbrus as a fun, jovial mountain. The atmosphere is more serious and sometimes filled with a bit of that abrupt mountaineering ego because it’s more challenging and tends to attract the more “serious” climbers who sometimes frown upon beginners. I’m not telling you this to distract you from climbing Elbrus, simply a little FYI that many climbers, including myself experienced.
You have to remember that everyone was a beginner once; everyone had to start out somewhere and if this is where you’re starting point (after Kilimanjaro of course) then ignore the naysayers and wave to them from the summit.
Even though Elbrus has the title of being the second “easiest” mountain of the seven summits, don’t underestimate the amount of effort you need to put in to prepare for it. You have to train with even more intensity, mountaineering specificity and due diligence than you’d expect for Kilimanjaro.
If working with a professional coach personally is an option for you then I would absolutely suggest you do it for this peak. Of course I am biased to my own coaching program (Mountaineering & Trekking Training) and because I have climbed Elbrus but if I am not the right coach for you then simply keep looking until you do find the right one. Having a professional, especially a really good one, look after your training and nutrition plan will be invaluable to your climb.
Considering climb Elbrus? Take five minutes to read my follow up blogs:
Location: Argentina, South America
Summit Altitude: 6,962m (22,841ft)
Duration: 21 days
Aconcagua is the third trekking mountain of the Seven Summits, found in the Andes Mountain range. It also happens to be the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas – that’s a big title to have.
Outside of the Himalayas, there are no other mountains as high as Aconcagua.
Fun Fact: Because of the way the climbing seasons work, no one climbs in the Himalayas during the climbing season of Aconcagua. So, if you make it to the summit, in that moment, you and anyone else on the summit with you, are literally the highest people on Earth.
Aconcagua is a fantastic mountain to test out your altitude capabilities without diving into the technical skills that other mountains of the same altitude require. It is a massive step up from Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, so if you are considering it, make sure you consider your training and nutrition plan first. Aconcagua will take everything you’ve got, physically, mentally and emotionally and when you decide to join a group and climb Aconcagua, best bring you’re A Game because anything short of that and you won’t make it.
Aconcagua requires a complete change in mentality compared to the previous two trekking seven summits. You’re in the big league now and you have to train, think and prepare in that way.
Speaking/typing from experience – Aconcagua is a beautiful mountain to climb. In my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. I give a very honest and in-depth account of climbing Aconcagua from the moment we decided to go until the moment we got back, including all the trials and tribulations, the planning, the training, the ups and the downs and all the funny and beautiful moments that with come with climbing with a bunch of strangers for 21 days.
If climbing Aconcagua is on your mind, then take this as a sign and go for it.
Here you’ll find a couple of useful blogs that may answer some of your questions, titled: Most Commonly Asked Questions About Climbing Aconcagua