Thursday, January 8, 2015

The World’s Mountain Ranges

Swiss Alps - Matterhorn behind me.  Tourists can go this high without climbing (i.e. via cable cars/gondolas). Alps is the highest mountain range of Western/Southern Europe. Pic 2014.

There are many types of ‘travel bucket list’ such as 7 continents, ancient monuments,  7 natural wonders (or more), deserts, 5 oceans, and many others.  One of these that I was silently ticking off one by one is a visit to each and every famous mountain range.   I’ve done the "7 continents" travel bucket list and have visited all but Africa's highest mountain ranges (a consequence of my 7 summits quest) but I doubt I’ll be able to visit all or even most of the world’s great mountain ranges.

The lure for me is being able to climb or hike and experience the mountains – see different flavours in terms of terrain, wildlife, climate or generally – the natural sceneries.  More than that - to see, learn or experience the life or culture of people who live in or around these mountains.  Mountain travel has and will always be something special for me, sometimes challenging in many ways – but the allure is distinct from say, visiting big cities or the usual tourist spots.   Mountain travels make me feel more at home, more relaxed and at peace.  (Well, until I started climbing a big hill). 

In my travels – I normally inject a mountain visit as an integral part of my itinerary with the hope of seeing and experiencing what the place has to offer.  There’s more in my future-to-visit mountain travels but here are some below – a guide offer to people-travellers who love mountains but may not like or don’t do much mountaineering…

Himalaya is undoubtedly the most famous range that this continent has to offer.  A traveler has a wide variety of country-choices - Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.  This is mostly the favorite of the world's best mountaineers as all 14 8000m peaks are all here.
There are many more mountain ranges in the biggest continent such as Pamir, Altai, Tien Shan, Ural, etc.  A quick glance on one's travel map may help reveal the nearest mountain range that he/she can visit. We're all limited by time and money - but not by places to visit. ;)

Alps is probably the most famous in this continent covering a huge area.  Serious mountaineers, skiers and mountain travelers alike visit various parts of the Alps every year.  Country of choices: France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and few more.
Caucasus would be a choice if you either live near or around this area, or if you're planning to climb the 7 summits (Mt Elbrus is here).  My limited visits suggested a nice and cheaper mountain travel except for the difficulty of a Russian Federation travel - in general.

South America
Andes!  The longest mountain range in the world. The long stretch of this range covers the continent from north to south.  A visit to most South American countries like Peru, Chile and Argentina almost always means a chance for an Andean tour.  Mostly cheaper compared to Alps, Pyrenees, North American ranges, but more expensive the most remote villages in the Himalaya or other Asian mountain ranges.
North America
There are many mountain ranges in NA and I only visited one so far - the Alaskan range.  A travel to continental/interior USA means a chance of visiting their well-maintained natural mountain parks. 

Ellsworth range is a must if you're climbing the continent's highest peak - Vinson Massif.  A regular (rich) tourist seldom visits or climbs the mountains (it's obviously very cold) but a quick hike in the nearby hills around the 'usual airport' in Elsworth could be a worthwhile activity.  You'd still need crampons and ice axe.  So far - this is the most expensive continent to visit.   

There are a few and 'short' mountain ranges in Australia.  Snowy Mountains is the home of Australia's highest continental peak - Kosciosko. 
New Zealand's Southern Alps offers better alpine experience if one loves skiing or alpine mountaineering.
This is one large continent that I have yet to visit more often. My limited visits in Egypt and Tanzania (and short stop in South Africa) didn't allow me to experience its mountain beauty. I have climbed Kilimanjaro but that's a stand-alone volcano and not part of a massive range.  Someday somehow I'd chance a visit to one of its ranges, Atlas perhaps?

still in the Alps (Italian side) at the town of Aosta.  I traveled here before crossing the Swiss border via Milan.  This northern Italian town is closer to France (Chamonix on the other side). 2014.



Andes range of South America. my first Andes visit was my climb of Aconcagua, here at its trail head. 2003.
my 2nd Andes experience in Chilean Patagonia. Wild Alpaca can be seen here, on the way to Torres del Paine.
Himalaya (Khumbu Nepal).  I would say a 'mandatory destination' for anyone who loves mountains :) any part of Himalaya.  pic. 2003.
Karakoram (Pakistan), sub-range of Himalaya.  Travel in Karakoram mostly means trekking in some remote village. Here, I was on the way to K2 basecamp.  2001.

Caucasus Range (Russia), here trekking somewhere in Baksan valley.  I visited Caucasus twice for my Elbrus climb. Most high mountains are popular for hiking/climbing and skiing - like this place.  pic 2007.

Pyrenees (Spain), here in the remote town of Pantecosta. I chose to travel north (of Spain) to see the mountains and unfortunately sacrificed historical sites in the south (that's for next time).  The good news is that, this is relatively close to Barcelona, a must-visit place in Spain. 2010.
Snowy Mountains, Australia - home of Australia's highest continental peak - Mt Kosciosko.  Here, doing a nice trek around the base of the mountain.  This place is more popular to skiers.  A relatively short distance from Canberra - the capital. Travel pic 2008/9.
Alaskan range, Denali climb.  There's not much reason to visit the range but to climb its cold mountains.   This is the highest range in North America. 2008.
Sudirman range of West Papua.  Highest range in Australasia. I think one of the best candidate for an Indiana Jones escapade. Here is Puncak Jaya on the way to Carstensz.  The adventure travel appeal is mostly 'remoteness' and experiencing the still intact tribal lifestyle of most indigenous people living in the island. 2011.
Tengger Massif, here at the mouth of Mt Bromo.  Although not technically a mountain range, Tengger covers a massive area including 4 volcanoes. 1998.

Southern Alps, South Island New Zealand.  Too lazy to climb? get a chopper!  :) part of my 2-week trip of South Island. 2000.
Crocker Range, Sabah.  Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo is famous for its unique post-glacier landscape.  A non-climbing tourist may still enjoy the natural park and do short hikes, bird watching, visit to hot springs or botanical gardens or simply lounge in one of the mountain resorts.  2007.

Ellsworth range, Antarctica.  Tourists visit Antarctica to see the south pole or visit various research stations.  A visit to the interior and especially the mountain ranges are mostly done by climbing expedition teams. Here at the 'airport' basecamp awaiting for our small airplane that will take us to Elsworth's interior - to Vinson base camp.  2011/2012.

Seeing my 'done' list brings out good memories, but at the same time teases me to plan for the next travel. "Where's next?" Perhaps, somewhere far, somewhere nice, somewhere 'new' and some place where I can enjoy the food, see new things, talk to people and see unique culture; and yes -  get a chance to visit and experience a beautiful mountain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck to your new itinerary. Take care and may GOD Bless you.:)