Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2021

Peter in the Lake District during the Coast to Coast

As we come to the end of another difficult year, we reflect on our highs and lows – on and off the blog

I thought that things would be different this year. We ended 2020 on a low but hopeful note and I really thought the world would be back to normal this year. 

Instead, travel continues to limp on. Here in the UK, lockdown hangs like the sword of Damocles, yet again threatening our trip to Antarctica. There is a sense of time ticking by, especially for Peter who has lost two years of climbing in his prime, which has impacted his lifelong dream to climb the seven summits. 

20 most beautiful mountains in the USA

Most beautiful mountains in America: Maroon BellsZhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The most beautiful mountains in the US are a contentious subject, for this is a land that brims with beauty. We scoured the states and whittled them down to a list of 20

Legendary climber​​ Reinhold Messner said that there are three rules of mountaineering: “It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.” 

Eight-thousanders: the 14 highest peaks in the world

Nanga Parbat was once known as "killer mountain"Witthawas_Siri/Shutterstock

The eight-thousanders are so ferocious that only 44 people have summited them all. We explain why they bewitch climbers all across the globe

Most boys grow out of their fascination with mountains and the great outdoors. Those that do not usually end up on the side of a mountain, asking ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ But, as the saying goes, the best alpinists have the worst memories and so they venture once again into the ether.

Ice work: 10 first ascents by female mountaineers

Norwegian adventurer Cecilie SkogFair Use

In a world dominated by men, a select group of women have shattered the ice ceiling. Here we review some daring first ascents by female mountaineers

I’ll be honest: it rankles to write the words ‘the first female’ to do such and such. It feels patronising, as if to say you weren’t good enough to play with the big boys but I’ll pat you on the head anyway. 

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

seven second summits k2 - 1

The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

Winter hiking: 6 tips to get you started

winter hiking featuredEmerald_media/Shutterstock

Winter hiking without experience is taxing at best and lethal at worst. We share some tips to help you prepare properly

Winter hiking is a polarising sport: some love it, others hate it. Too often, people have bad experiences not because they’re inherently resistant to cold, but because they’re under-prepared. They make not just basic mistakes like packing the wrong gear but also arrive mentally unprepared.

Virgin peaks: the world’s unclimbed mountains

unclimbed mountains Mount KailashDreamstime

The world’s unclimbed mountains are the last great challenges in mountaineering. We look at the most coveted of these unconquered summits

In January 2021, Nirmal Purja and his team of Nepali climbers completed the first winter ascent of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. K2 was the final 8,000m peak awaiting a winter ascent after Nanga Parbat, Pakistan’s ‘Killer Mountain’, was scaled in 2016.

Best mountaineering books: 27 great reads

lead image of climber for best mountaineering books 2021Vixit/Shutterstock

Updated for 2021, we list the best mountaineering books ever written, drawing on accounts of world-class climbers in the harshest environments

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my bookshelves are filled with tales of adventure travel, survival against the odds and obsessive searches.

I’m an avid climber keen on winter mountaineering and wild camping so, naturally, mountaineering books take up a good chunk of space on my shelf.

Altitude sickness symptoms and how to avoid them

divisive destinationsDreamstime

Being young, fit and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from altitude sickness symptoms. Here’s how to identify, treat and prevent them effectively

Gracie is a student at Johns Hopkins, which offers one of the best medical training programs in the world. She is slim, fit and active. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and always watches what she eats.

How to use a compass and map: a simple guide

how to use a compass and map feat img(c) Schlenger86 | Dreamstime.com

This guide on how to use a compass and map should be enough to get you started and give you the confidence to use the skills for yourself in the hills

As a schoolboy, I was lucky to learn how to use a compass and map. I then spent the best part of two decades putting these basic skills to use throughout the British countryside, without ever really having them tested.

30 most beautiful mountains in the world

Ama Dablam is a thing of beautyDaniel Prudek/Shutterstock

The most beautiful mountains in the world have captivated climbers for centuries. Here, we examine their lethal appeal

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you,” said John Muir, the renowned naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.

If our resident seven-summit hopeful is anything to go by, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force.

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths england coast pathDreamstime

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths provide excellent access to the UK’s outdoors while showcasing the finest scenery our isles have to offer

When you think of the best long-distance hiking trails from around the world, little old Britain probably wouldn’t top of your list. Hikers will more likely be drawn to the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails in the US, New Zealand’s Great Walks or the famous Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal.

Cold shoulder: 10 dramatic climbing controversies

From dubious first ascents to tense clashes at high altitude, we chart 10 dramatic climbing controversies – some resolved and others less so

There was a time when climbing controversies were sportingly confined to the slopes. The petty trivialities, the robust exchanges and the heated clashes were just part of the cut and thrust of the mountaineering world. 

Adventure travel books 2021: our top 10 picks

We share the best adventure travel books 2021 and explain why each should be on your reading list

From a cross-country road trip in a hostile America to boundless sand dunes in remote China, our crop of adventure travel books 2021 have one thing in common: their journeys are more than just physical. 

Unknown treks in Asia: 10 offbeat trails

From remote corners of Bhutan to the lofty heights of Nepal, we profile some of the best unknown treks in Asia

When it comes to exploration, ‘too late for the seas, too soon for the stars’ may best describe our current times. Legendary explorers like Drake and Magellan charted the seas long ago while Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and their like did the same for remote lands. 

Greatest climbing quotes ever uttered

climbing quotes lead image featuring a mountain and lake

From climbing legends to authors with a penchant for snowy summits, we take a look at the greatest climbing quotes ever uttered

Whether it’s the eight-thousanders of the Himalayas, the big wall climbs of California or the more modest highlands of Scotland, mountains have inspired men and women to put pen to paper and wax lyrical for centuries past.

How much does it cost to climb the seven summits?

How much does it cost to climb the seven summits?

Our resident mountaineer and would-be seven summiteer crunches the numbers on how much it will cost to climb the seven summits

How much does it cost to climb the seven summits? About $180,000 USD give or take $10k.

Climbers could significantly reduce costs by foregoing luxuries, cutting corners and taking (even more) risks to get that figure below $100,000, but I do not recommend this and certainly won’t be taking such unnecessary risks.

Climbing the seven summits: a route to the top

Eight-thousanders-everestDreamstime

Climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent – is an improbable dream of mine… but that’s the beauty of dreams

I have always loved trekking and climbing. I usually spend several weeks of any given year on the grades of the Scottish Highlands or Welsh Snowdonia or ideally further afield such as the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland or the K2 base camp trek in Pakistan.

Step by step: ‘climb’ the world’s highest mountains without leaving your home

climb-the-worlds-highest-mountains-without-leaving-your-home

With climbing and mountaineering on hold for the foreseeable future, we find an alternative way to scale the most coveted peaks on the planet

Continuing my search for inside-outdoor activities, I discovered a new way to simultaneously keep myself occupied and fit during these exceptional times: climbing the mountains of the world… using our staircase.

100 outdoor films to watch online for free

Cerro Torre – A Snowball’s Chance in HellRed Bull

A list of 100 outdoor films to watch online for free from the archives of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the world’s premier adventure film festival

We’re living through extraordinary times and, like most, we’re currently not hiking or travelling anywhere. As such, we’re on the hunt for as much inside-outdoor entertainment as we can find.