For many people, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is considered the ultimate achievement. But what if you’ve already climbed Kili? What if you’ve reached the Roof of Africa, and, back home and in the office, you find yourself with that restless feeling, those itchy feet that are trying to tell you new adventures must be had?
Well, I’m afraid to tell you that if this sounds familiar, you may have entered the cycle of mountaineering. Well known among outdoors folk, the ‘cycle of mountaineering’ is a state many of us get into after feeling the rush of standing on a mountain summit, and then returning to the mundanity of everyday life. All of the things that we thought we would savour back in the comfort of our homes – the cosy beds, the cups of tea on demand – all seem to disappear as the urge to embark on another adventure grows.
Before you know it, you’re looking for something bigger, better. But what’s next after Kilimanjaro? If you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and are now looking for the next challenge, here is our guide to which mountains to tick off your bucket list next – and how to get there.
Which mountains should be on my bucket list?
So you’ve reached the lofty summit of Kilimanjaro, and now you have the mountain bug. Which peaks offer a good, progressive next step? Generally speaking, we would advise trekkers to tick summits off their list in incremental form – going a little higher and a little harder each time.
Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5895 metres, is pretty high. But breaking through to the 6000s is something else entirely. Kili is essentially a hard trek at altitude – it’s not snowy, it doesn’t require particular skills. So, the next step would be to either opt for a trekking peak that is higher, or one that is in a colder climate – or both.
Here are a couple of suggestions…
Mount Elbrus, Russia
Climbing Mount Elbrus is the perfect next step up from Kili. It might not be the best-known mountain in the world, but Elbrus is actually one of the Seven Summits, being the highest mountain on the European continent. Climbing to its snowy summit is a brilliant introduction to roped trekking.
Elbrus sits at 5,642 metres – but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easier than Kili just because it’s not as high. The slopes of Elbrus are steeper, the terrain more challenging, and the trek involves Alpine skills such as fitting and walking in crampons over snowfield, trekking with an ice axe, fitting a harness, and walking with a rope. In order to complete this climb, you will complete training during the trek in emergency measures such as ice axe arrests – an essential skill for mountaineers.
Climbing Mount Elbrus should be achievable for most people who have climbed Kili – but you will still need to train. This is a much more strenuous trek, and also requires more mental concentration due to the technical skills involved. However, the views over the Caucasus Mountains from the summit will make all of your efforts worth your while.
Island Peak, Nepal
Another step up from Mount Elbrus in terms of technicality is Island Peak in Nepal. However, which mountain of the two you will find most strenuous will depend on your strengths and preferences. Locally called Imja Tse, the mountain sits at 6,189 metres high. At this elevation, oxygen levels are severely lacking, and you will feel it.
One of the most important success factors in climbing Island Peak is, therefore, the amount of time you spend getting there – the longer you give yourself to acclimatise, the better. That’s why we run our Island Peak treks over 15 days, giving you the best possible chance of acclimatising and thus not only reaching the summit, but also staying safe.
Island Peak is still technically a trekking peak, but it does require rope work, plus some abseiling on the way down. You will receive professional training in everything you need to do during the trek, but it is always helpful to get some practice before you leave. Why not try out rock climbing to get a feel for it?
Climbing Island Peak is strenuous and involves some technical elements, but it is achievable to those who put the time and work into preparation. The trek itself is exceptionally spectacular, with views of Ama Dablam, Mount Everest, Lhotse and so many more iconic peaks along the way.
How do I get there?
There are several skills you should practise before setting out to climb Mount Elbrus or Island Peak. These include:
- Fitting crampons and harnesses
- Walking on snowfield with crampons Fitting crampons and harnesses
- Hiking with an ice axe
- Trekking in the cold
- Tying into and walking with ropes
- Basic rock climbing
- Ice axe arrests
Besides these essential skills, it is important to get your general levels of cardiovascular fitness as high as you can before attempting either trek. The best way to do this is by hillwalking whilst carrying weight – as this is the closest simulation of what you’ll actually be doing during the trip. However, you can also consider running and other fitness regimes to improve your overall stamina and strength.
The final consideration for moving up from Mount Kilimanjaro to Mount Elbrus or Island Peak is getting the right kit. We provide the essential safety equipment such as ropes on our trips, but it is good to be familiar with using them before you fly out, so practising using crampons, harnesses and ice axes beforehand is a good idea.
You will also need to ensure that your clothing and sleeping equipment is warm enough to keep you safe and comfortable in the colder climates of high-altitude Russia and Nepal. It may have been chilly on Kili’s summit night, but these peaks are at a whole new level!
Those are our top tips for where to set your sights after summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. However, every individual’s experience of the mountains varies, so if you’re looking for your next challenge, we strongly advise you to contact us and discuss the options for your next adventure. After all, we’re always full of ideas when it comes to travel! You can reach us on 01769 309 007.