Extreme Hiking – What You Need to Know to Conquer the Top Ten Mountains!

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Extreme Hiking—What You Need to Know to Conquer the Top Ten Mountains!

Most of us (at least the people reading these articles!) like to go hiking. There are all kinds of terrains to hike in, and heading out in mostly flat terrain can be as rewarding as hiking up a mountain. But for some, there is nothing like heading up a large hill or the side of a mountain, and experiencing the beauty and wonder nature has to offer, all while challenging yourself, going that extra mile, and reaching your goal/destination.

Then there are those who go to the extreme, push themselves to the limit, go for the adventure, the danger, the excitement, and the thrill of victory when they reach the top of the mountain. Going one level further, we then reach those who want to tackle the biggest challenges, to make it to the peak of the top ten hikable mountains in the world.

Which Are the Top Ten?

This list is open to debate, but generally, the list is:

  • Mount Everest in Nepal
  • Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
  • Mount Whitney in the Unites States
  • Mount Temple in Canada
  • Mount Fuji in Japan
  • Mount Elbrus in Europe (Southeastern Russia)
  • Aconcagua in Argentina
  • Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia
  • McKinley near the Arctic Circle in Canada
  • K2 on the China-Pakistan Border
  • Kangchenjunga on the Nepal-India border

While these are not the top ten tallest, they cover most of the top ten list (if we don’t count multiple mountains in the same ranges) and some of the more popular climbs. None of them are easy in any way, shape, or form. There are a bunch of things you need to do to get ready.

The First Steps in Extreme Hiking

First, like any sport or physical activity, you have to be an expert. And we don’t mean just know a few things and be able to keep up your pace for a few hours on a hike. We mean the nose to the grindstone, knowing which rock is which by look, being able to survive on protein bars and willpower, hiking or climbing straight up an ice flow and knowing you have to carry enough fuel canisters to heat up your tent and just how long to warm up your fingers and toes to avoid frostbite type of expert.

The first step is to learn everything you can about hiking and extreme conditions, while simultaneously training your body and mind to push themselves beyond what limits most people think they can take. By the way, you need to make sure you can survive on the food, because it will be different than what you are used to. You will need to take high energy, low weight foods with you, and make sure that you like them! There are high-calorie hiking powders, instant soups, freeze dried meals, etc. Get used to them, because some of these hikes take more than 2 MONTHS, burning 10,000 calories a day and 20,000 a day on the summit climb!

Also, realize that it might be a good idea to pig out a bit before you go. The average hike up one of these mountains makes someone lose between 10 and 20 pounds, no matter how much they eat. We are assuming that you will be in fantastic shape by the time you are ready to go, so try to put on a bit of that weight in terms of fat before you go. Don’t worry, we guarantee you will keep your figure by the end!

Once you consider yourself nearing the extreme category (know how to tie an emperor’s hat knot or a double fisherman’s knot? You might need them!) you can begin thinking about the next step, which you may have already invested in.

This is getting the best gear possible. Climbing today doesn’t actually require the Sherpas of the past, we have amazing technological marvels that can cut down on the weight and number of items you need to help get you where you need to go. For example, not one mountain on this list would be possible without a good ice axe, and they are multifunctional and made out of some pretty space-age materials. Check out a great article on them at Best Hiking, here. Other items you would need would be backpacks, climbing gear, clothing, food, etc.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

There are very few mountains in the world that have not been climbed yet, and, if they haven’t, it’s not for lack of trying! The mountains on the list are some of the most extreme challenges in the world, and getting to the top will put you in a very, VERY elite club with a super minority of members. Given that, each mountain has a number of guides available, and you should 100% take advantage of that fact.

There are established camps and strongholds at different places on the mountains on the list, and the guides can tell you if turning left will drop you down a crevice or lead you to the next plateau. They can also help you plan your trip. Every extreme climb is unique, and each mountain has its own unique challenges and pitfalls. Someone familiar with the terrain can tell you what you need to bring before you get there. And you need to have it pretty much memorized.

The guides can also help you plan a backup route for every stage of the climb. Sometimes it won’t be possible to go down the way you came, and you better have a good way out.

Be Flexible

Extreme hiking is like any other complicated activity. It takes time, practice, patience, and a whole lot of self-upgrading! These mountains are very far apart and very different in needs. Some of them also cost quite a bit. You may want to go for the most popular first, like Everest, but realize that the climb will cost you somewhere between $45,000 and $65,000. This is quite a steep investment, and that’s just for the climb alone. This doesn’t include the countless hours of training. It also takes 39 days so the body can adjust to high altitude, so understand that you will be in a different world for a few months.

On the other hand, you can find extreme adventure on the other mountains too. The Carstensz Pyramid (also called Puncak Jaya) is 4,884 meters (compared to 8,848m for Everest), but it is a huge adventure in and of itself! Just to get there, you have to hike through the jungle for over a week, through rivers and valleys, swampy areas and every nice thing the wildlife has to offer (leeches too!). Then you need a week to get to the top and back, and the weather is crazy, with the humid and hot jungle air clashing against the cold mountain air creating some truly spectacular and unique weather patterns.

The top is near freezing temperatures, and a cold desert, a totally different environment than the five kilometers below it. As we mentioned earlier, for this trek you would need totally different hiking gear, and have to plan extremely well. This trek is a true adventure. It’s not one many people know about, but you’re not really doing it for the breakroom stories, are you? Did we mention the equator passes through the mountain? And the trip costs $10,000 to $15,000 all in, so it’s much more economically feasible than some of the other climbs out there.

There’s No Time Like the Present

To become an extreme hiker, you need to put in a LOT of prep time. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of extreme hiking places in the world, and they can all train you to get ready for the big ten. Work your way up, leveling your body and mind just like you would in any good RPG, and moving to the higher-level areas as you level up.

It will take a long time, but it’s totally worth it. If you feel the fire and have the drive, there are few more personally rewarding activities. So get going and begin your quest! Let us know how you have begun to train for your extreme hiking goals, or where you have gone and what other tips you can give to those of us who are at the beginning of the process!


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.