Nepal is the undisputed king of mountain climbing in the world, harboring the Himalayan kingdom and most of the planet’s most massive mountains, including Everest, Kanchenjunga and Annapurna I.
If you haven’t got the resources to make it here, then parts of Southeast Asia offer some easier climbing such as Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu, while Japan’s Mount Fuji and China’s Huangshan Mountain are also easier.
Those into rock climbing are better off sticking to Southeast Asia where the weather is warm and much of the land is made up of limestone. Krabi – specifically Rai Leh – is one of the best places in the world to go rock climbing, while Malaysia’s Batu Caves are also excellent.
Mount Everest, Nepal / Tibet At 8,848m Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world stretching over Tibet and Nepal. Named after British Surveyor-General of India, Sir George Everest, Everest is also known as Quomolongma in Tibet and Sagarmatha in Nepal. Although not the hardest climb in the world, Mount Everest is a dream on every mountaineer’s list and is totally covered in snow. Preparations and the cost of the climb are considerable.
K 2 K 2, or Mount Godwin Austin, named after the early English photographer/explorer, and locally as ‘Chogo Ri’ (Great Mountain), K 2 is the world’s second highest mountain rising to 8,611m and is located in the Karakoram range in northern Pakistan. Like Everest and Annapurna I, only serious mountaineers need tackle this one as it requires astute climbing knowledge and elite physical fitness.
Annapurna I, Nepal Another of the famous Himalayas peaks Annapurna I is the 10th highest mountain in the world and is flanked by several massive peaks in the chain. Annapurna I, the highest peak, reaches to over 8,000m and is one which serious mountaineers attempt to crack. Glaciers on its western and northwestern slopes drain into a huge gorge.
Mera Peak, Nepal Located south of Everest in the Hinku Valley, 6,476m Mera Peak is more of a serious trek than a climb following the standard route up the North Face. The climb takes three or four days with a two-night stop at base camp, weather permitting, although the whole expedition takes around a week to get in and another week to get out (including the climb). Generally allow a minimum of three weeks in Nepal for Mera Peak.
Island Peak, Nepal So named because of the 6,189m peak looking like an island poking up through the ice, Island Peak is another great Nepalese climb and offers some stunning views of Everest on the way. The climb goes via the early part of the Everest base camp trek and takes a week to reach the Island Peak base camp from Lukla airfield (including acclimatization stops) before proceeding up the mountain’s southeast flank. Although the climb is actually quite straightforward, you need to have good physical condition and be well-acclimatized.
Huangshan Mountain, China Lying amid spectacular mountain scenery surrounded by ancient pines and clouds in the southern Anhui Province of China, Huangshan Mountain is on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage list and offers some fine trekking and climbing. Apart from the fabulous climbing are the ancient villages of Hongcun and Xidi, which are also on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list.
Mount Fuji, Japan The 3,700-plus meter peak of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, is very popular among Japanese and foreign tourists. Although it looks pretty formidable from afar, the climb is actually fairly straightforward and the views when approaching the mountain and from afar are spectacular. The official climbing season is in July and August and this is the time to climb if you don’t have much hiking experience.
Rai Leh – Krabi, Thailand Rai Leh in Krabi province, southern Thailand, is one of the world’s foremost rock climbing destinations with its hundreds of marked climbs, pocketed faces and overhangs. All levels of ability are catered for at Rai Leh and neighboring Ton Sai beaches and the scenery, beaches and nearby nightlife are also excellent.
Mount Kinabalu – Borneo, Malaysia At over 4,000m in height, Mount Kinabalu is Southeast Asia’s highest mountain and apart from the walking and impressive flora and fauna, the rock climbing here is superb. Climbs cater to everyone from beginner to advanced level and there is even some via ferrata walking (walking by steel ropes and ladders). The best thing about climbing Mount Kinabalu is the incredible views.
Gunung Tahan, Malaysia The highest mountain in peninsular Malaysia offers the best climbing in this region of Asia (Southeast Asia) for those who perhaps don’t have time to make it to Borneo or the resources and expertise to try out the Himalayas. Treks and climbs traverse rainforests, rivers and mountain ridges before the push to the summit of Gunung Tahan and can last for several days.
Batu Cave - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Batu Cave has to be one of the world’s best locations for the rock climbing enthusiast, being located so close to a capital city (Kuala Lumpur) and thus very accessible. There are hundreds of bolted climbs inside the caves, many of which feature some amazing overhangs, while the touristy parts of the caves themselves are also worth a look.