Mountaineering calendar: when to climb the world’s greatest mountains

We’ve a created mountaineering calendar of the world’s greatest mountains and the optimal time of year at which to climb them, listed month by month.

Since I first started climbing, I must have spent hours typing “when is the best time to climb…” into search engines and then crawling through websites to find the key piece of information I needed. Only when I have a date in mind can I start to think about the practicalities of actually trying to climb a mountain (i.e. booking time off work, flights, budget, gear etc).

To solve this problem once and for all, we have put together a mountaineering calendar of the world’s greatest mountains and the optimal time of year at which to climb them. Drawing on Adventure Consultants’ expedition calendar, we list the world’s major mountains and ranges month by month.

The list is not entirely inclusive as it would take too long to list every mountain on the planet. Likewise, to avoid repetition we list select mountains in a range, considering the world’s 100 highest mountains lie within the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. We have also excluded winter ascents from the list because, well, if you’re that guy, you probably don’t need a calendar.

Finally, the mountaineering calendar is an evolving project so please make any suggestions in the comments below and we’ll continue to add mountains and ranges over time.

A 2019 print version of the below calendar is available to buy on Lulu.com.

JANUARY


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Aconcagua, ArgentinaSeven summits.
Highest non-technical mountain in the world.
1Mount Kenya (south-face), KenyaSeven second summits.
Best time to climb south face.
1Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and Cayambe, EcuadorFarthest point from Earth’s core.
Dry period with low winds.
1Puncak Mandala, IndonesiaSeven second summits.
January is dry season in Papua Province.
1Mount Tyree, AntarcticaSeven second summits.
6-31Vinson Massif, AntarcticaSeven summits.
16-30Carstensz Pyramid, IndonesiaSeven summits (Messner list).
Can be climbed year-round but January is dry season in Papua Province.

mountaineering calendar whitney usa

The year-round Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States (i.e. excluding Hawaii and Alaska) as well as the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada. It looks intimidating on first view but the popular Mount Whitney Trail starts at an elevation of 2,550m (8,360ft) meaning the summit can be reached in just a day (albeit a challenging one). Most hikers prefer to ascend between late May and October while mountaineers prefer the months of January and February as they provide exceptional training ground for those looking to gain experience in winter conditions.

FEBRUARY


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Antarctic Peninsula voyages, AntarcticaPossible ship-based expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula.
1Kilimanjaro, TanzaniaSeven summits.
A popular month to climb due to moderate conditions.
1Antisana, EcuadorEcuador’s 4th highest and most challenging volcano.
Best time to climb.
14Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, CameroonWest Africa’s highest mountain.
26North Pole skiing expedition, ArcticDeparts late February (56 days).
mountaineering calendar kilimanjaroKilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and one of the seven summits. It is also a year-round trekking mountain. It is most popular in February but July too is an excellent time to visit as the climb can be combined with safari and wildlife spotting.
Mountaineering-calendar-Antisana-ecuadorAntisana offers something different to Ecuador’s three higher and more popular volcanos. It requires some technical skills with a challenging bergschrund near the summit. Although it’s a year-round mountain, February is driest and least windy.

MARCH


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
6-20Ojos del Salado expedition, Chile / ArgentinaSeven second summits.
25First Everest expeditions begin, NepalSeven summits.
Eight-thousanders.
Highest mountain in the world.
27Everest base camp treks begin, NepalTrek to the base of the highest mountain in the world.
“Those who travel to mountain-tops are half in love with themselves, and half in love with oblivion.”
– Robert Macfarlane

APRIL


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Mount Cook & Southern Alps, New ZealandNew Zealand’s highest mountain.
Good time to climb in the Southern Alps.
1Canadian Rockies, CanadaBest month for winter mountaineering.
1Everest expeditions begin, NepalSeven summits.
Eight-thousanders.
Highest mountain in the world.
1Everest / Lhotse combined expeditions begin, NepalSeven summits, eight-thousanders.
1st & 4th highest mountains in the world.
1First Manaslu expeditions, NepalEight-thousanders.
8th highest mountain in the world.
Pre-monsoon expedition.
1First Makalu expeditions, Nepal / ChinaEight-thousanders.
5th highest mountain in the world.
Pre-monsoon expedition.
1Kanchenjunga expeditions begin, Nepal / IndiaEight-thousanders.
3rd highest mountain in the world.
2Attempts on Annapurna I usually begin, NepalEight-thousanders.
10th highest mountain in the world.
Arguably most dangerous eight-thousander.
8Lhotse expeditions begin, NepalEight-thousanders.
4th highest mountain in the world.
12Ama Dablam expeditions begin, NepalExposed technical Alpinism at altitude.
13Shishapangma expeditions begin, ChinaEight-thousanders.
14th highest mountain in the world.
14Greenland crossing, GreenlandExpeditions begin.
15Alaska Range, USAClimbing season begins.
16Dhaulagiri expeditions begin, NepalEight-thousanders.
7th highest mountain in the world.
23First Mera Peak expedition, NepalNepal’s highest trekking peak.
23First Baruntse expedition, Nepal7,000m+ non-technical climbing.
26First Island Peak expedition, NepalIdeal first Himalayan climb.

Mountaineering calendar: when to climb the world’s greatest mountains lhotse

The Everest massif includes Lhotse (centre), the impressive Nuptse ridge (right) and Mount Everest itself (left). Lhotse and Everest can be climbed together as part of a “combo climb”. The routes follow the Khumbu Icefall up to camp four where they part. Despite how it looks in the photo above, the Nuptse ridge is the lowest peak at 7,861m (25,791ft) while the others are both eight-thousanders and the highest and fourth-highest mountains in the world.

MAY


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Central-European Alps, EuropeEuropean Alpine season begins.
1Mount Toubkal & Atlas Mountains, MoroccoClimbing season begins.
1Sierra Nevada, White Mountains & Cascade Range, USACalifornia fourteeners.
California climbing season begins.
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in contiguous USA.
1Colorado ranges, USAColorado fourteeners.
Colorado climbing season begins.
1Mount Rainier & Cascade Range, USAClimbing season begins.
1-31Inca Trail, PeruBest month for hiking Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu.
2-31Denali expeditions begin, USASeven summits.
Colder in early May.
13-25Everest summit bids, NepalSeven summits.
Eight-thousanders.
Highest mountain in the world.
14Mount Logan expeditions begin, CanadaSeven second summits.
15Nanga Parbat attempts usually begin, PakistanEight-thousanders.
9th highest mountain in the world.
Never climbed in winter.
16-25Lhotse summit bids, NepalEight-thousanders.
4th highest mountain in the world.
21Bolivian Alpine season begins, Bolivia6,000m peaks of the Andes.
30Mount Gunnbjorn, GreenlandHighest mountain in Greenland.

JUNE


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Scandinavian Mountains, Norway / Sweden / FinlandScandinavian mountaineering season begins.
1-15Mount Gunnbjorn, GreenlandHighest mountain in Greenland.
1-30Denali expeditions, USASeven summits.
Most successful summits in mid-late June.
1-30Bolivia Alpine season, Bolivia6,000m peaks of the Andes.
10Mount Kenya (north-face), KenyaBest time to climb north face.
Seven second summits.
11Gasherbrum I, II & Broad Peak expeditions begin, Pakistan / ChinaEight-thousanders.
11th, 12th & 13th highest mountains in the world.
Climbing season in the Karakoram begins.
12K2 expeditions begin, Pakistan / ChinaSeven second summits.
Eight-thousanders.
2nd highest mountain in the world.
Never climbed in winter.
15Three-thousanders in Japan, JapanClimbing season begins in Japan.

mountaineering-calendar-broad-peak

The Gasherbrum group of mountains is located in the Karakoram mountain range of the Himalayas on the Pakistan-China border. The group includes three of the 14 eight-thousanders, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak, as well as the unclimbed Gasherbrum VI. Nearby is the imposing K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. The majority of expeditions on these mountains commence in June with summits taking place in late July / early August.

JULY


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Mont Blanc and Alpine four-thousanders, France / Switzerland / ItalyBest time to climb in the European Alps.
Alpine four-thousanders.
1Canadian Rockies, CanadaClimbing (dry) season begins.
1Kilimanjaro, TanzaniaSeven summits.
Weather is cooler and dry – good time for climbing and wildlife spotting in Tanzania.
1Eiger, SwitzerlandGreat north faces of the Alps.
1Matterhorn, Italy / SwitzerlandAlpine four-thousanders.
Great north faces of the Alps.
1Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and Cayambe, EcuadorFarthest point from the Earth’s core.
Driest month although possibility of strong winds.
1Bolivia Alpine season, Bolivia6,000m peaks of the Andes.
9Mount Khuiten and Tavan Bogd range, MongoliaRemote mountaineering.
11Elbrus expeditions begin, RussiaSeven summits.
11Dykh-Tau expeditions begin, RussiaSeven second summits.
16-31Carstensz Pyramid, IndonesiaSeven summits (Messner list).
Can be climbed year-round but July-August is the peak season in Indonesia.
23Alpamayo, Artesonraju & Peruvian Andes, PeruBest time to climb is in late July / early August.
“It’s a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.”
– Ed Viesturs

AUGUST


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Mont Blanc and Alpine four-thousanders, France / Switzerland / ItalyBest time to climb in the European Alps.
Alpine four-thousanders.
1Eiger, SwitzerlandGreat north faces of the Alps.
1Matterhorn, Italy / SwitzerlandAlpine four-thousanders.
Great north faces of the Alps.
1Elbrus expeditions, RussiaSeven summits.
1Dykh-Tau expeditions, RussiaSeven second summits.
1Bolivia Alpine season ends, Bolivia6,000m peaks of the Andes.
15Everest autumn summit season, NepalSeven summits.
Highest mountain in the world.
30Cho Oyu expedition begins, Nepal / ChinaEight-thousanders.
6th highest mountain in the world.
Mountaineering-calendar-matterhornThe towering and near-symmetrical pyramidal peak of the Matterhorn is one the Europe’s (and perhaps the world’s) most iconic mountains. The summer months of July and August are without doubt the best time to climb.
Mountaineering-calendar-eigerThe formidable North face of the Eiger has made the mountain world famous, often because of tragic summit attempts. Known as one of Alpine ‘big three’ alongside the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, the Eiger is also best approached in July and August.

SEPTEMBER


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Second Manaslu expedition, NepalEight-thousanders.
8th highest mountain in the world.
Post-monsoon expedition.
1Second Makalu expedition, Nepal / ChinaEight-thousanders.
5th highest mountain in the world.
1Khan Tengri, Kazakhstan / KyrgyzstanBest time to climb in the range.
14Himlung & Saribung, NepalLate season mountaineering.
15Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan / China / Kyrgyzstan / Tajikistan / UzbekistanBest time to climb in the range.
24Second Mera Peak expedition, NepalNepal’s highest trekking peak.
24Second Baruntse expedition, Nepal7,000m+ non-technical climbing.
“Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.”
– Hermann Buhl

OCTOBER


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Tian Shan, China, Kazakhstan / Kyrgyzstan / UzbekistanBest time to climb in the range.
1Meru Peak’s Shark’s FinOne of the hardest routes in the world.
First climbed in October 2011.
15Ama Dablam, NepalExposed technical Alpinism at altitude.
21Cholatse, NepalExposed technical Alpinism at altitude.

NOVEMBER


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Patagonia, Argentina / ChileClimbing season begins.
1Monte Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre, ArgentinaAscents usually begin in November.
1Cordillera Paine, Torres del Paine, ChileAscents usually begin in November.
1Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl, MexicoDry season begins in November through to March.
Pico de Orizaba is the highest mountain in Mexico & the third highest in North America.
1Mount Cook & Southern Alps, New ZealandNew Zealand’s highest mountain.
Southern Alps climbing season begins.
1Antarctic Peninsula voyages, AntarcticaPossible ship-based expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula.
10Three Peaks Nepal, NepalThree moderate-altitude summits in one expedition.
16South Pole skiing expedition, AntarcticaPolar skiing expedition (67 days).
23Vinson Massif, AntarcticaSeven summits.
24Aconcagua expeditions begin, ArgentinaSeven summits.
Climbing season in surrounding Andes range begins.

Mountaineering-calendar-fitz-roy

In a cold and windswept corner of Argentine Patagonia sits Cerro Torre with its terrifying serrated summits. Since it was first (supposedly) climbed in 1959, the mountain has been dogged by controversy thanks to disputed summit claims, questionable climber ethics and the contentious use of bolts. Patagonia is famous for its tempestuous weather, so even during the summer months of November, December and January, the conditions can be torrid.

DECEMBER


DATEMOUNTAINNOTES
1Mount Cook & Southern Alps, New ZealandNew Zealand’s highest mountain.
Good time to climb in Southern Alps.
1Monte Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre, ArgentinaGood time to climb.
1Cordillera Paine, Torres del Paine, ChileGood time to climb.
1Antisana climbs begin, EcuadorEcuador’s 4th highest and most challenging volcano.
Ecuadorian Alpine season begins.
1Pico de Orizaba, MexicoBest month to climb .
Highest mountain in Mexico & the third highest in North America.
1Antarctic Peninsula voyages, AntarcticaPossible ship-based expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula.
1Mount Tyree, AntarcticaSeven second summits.
1Aconcagua, ArgentinaSeven summits.
4Vinson Massif, AntarcticaSeven summits.
15Cordillera Central, ColombiaBest time to climb in Colombia.
“Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.”
– Reinhold Messner

 

A print version of the 2019 mountaineering calendar is available to buy via Lulu.com.

Photography: Dreamstime