Whether because of the the risks posed by altitude, crevasses, and avalanches, the costs, or just a simple desire to keep our toes, fingers, and tips of our noses attached to our bodies, for most of us the dream of one day taking on a once-in-a-lifetime kinda mountain in the mold of an Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, or Kanchenjunga is unlikely to ever become a reality.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other, slightly smaller siblings of these enormous peaks that are well within the pay grade of us mere mortals and very doable for anyone keen to head to high altitude without facing quite so real a threat to life and limb.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to ten of the best of them with our guide to the world’s ten most doable 6,000-meter peaks.
Definition of “Doable”
Not all big mountains, of course, are created equal. Some are testier in nature and require far more technical nous than others. In our use of “doable,” we are referring to what are often known as “trekking peaks.”
These are, as the name suggests, peaks that can be summited without the use of any technical mountaineering equipment other than crampons and an ice-axe. This title, however, should not be taken as an indication of any big mountain’s lack of objective dangers and inherent risks.
Above 6,000 meters, the amount of oxygen available to your lungs can be more than a third less than at sea level and for all those taking on these peaks there is a risk of altitude sickness and pulmonary or cerebral edema, both of which can be fatal. As such, a better definition might be “doable, but not without their dangers.”
The World’s Most Doable 6000-meter Mountains
1. Imja Tse (Island Peak)—6, 183m
We get things rolling with not only one of the world’s most doable 6000-meter mountains but also one of the most popular. Located in Nepal’s Khumbu Valley and surrounded by such giants as Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Nuptse, Lhotse, and, of course, Everest herself, this one is as much a viewing platform for some of the world’s most famous and fabled mountains as it is a beautiful and challenging mountain in its own right.
Getting there requires a 6-7 day trek up the Khumbu to the Island Peak base camp (near Chhukung) and, from there, four days to climb the mountain itself.
Climbing Imja Tse requires a permit and, for most, a reliable guide, but other than a small glacier crossing and a few steeper roped sections on the summit ridge, the going is fairly easy from start to finish.
2. Huayna Potosi—6,088m
While Bolivia’s very shapely and popular Huanya Potosi includes two sections on a 45° incline and a sizable glacier crossing, this PD-rated (peu difficile: “a little difficult”) is within the capabilities of any moderately experienced hiker.
Often referred to as “the easiest 6000er” in the world owing to both its relative lack of height, the minimal elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit (1,400m), and the ease with which it can be reached from the city of La Paz, where most aspirants can speed up their acclimatization with shorter hikes in the nearby foothills.
3. Chulu Far East—6,059 m
Lying deep in the Manang Region of Nepal, Chulu Far East is a good choice for anyone looking for a more adventurous trekking peak that offers the chance to explore the Annapurna region en route, take in the sumptuous Tilicho Lake, and enjoy views of Mustang, Tibet, Annapurna I, II, III, and IV, Dhaulagiri, Gangapurna, Manaslu, and other neighbouring giants while on their expedition.
From the village of Chame, a four-day trek lands aspirants at Chulu Far East Base Camp by way of Humde village. Most expeditions acclimatize and enjoy the extraordinary views of the Annapurna range for 2 days before setting off for a high camp at 5,500m and then making the short but occasionally steep ascent on the alternately rocky and snowy slopes to the summit proper.
4. Chachani—6057 m
There are two routes by which hikers can reach the summit of Peru’s glacier-free Chachani and neither presents significant difficulties beyond those entailed by altitude.
The most scenic of the two routes is the Cabrerias route, which begins in the city of Arequipa (2355 m) and requires a 2 to 5-day return trip, approaching from the south of the mountain to a base camp just below 5,200 m before a longish summit push across loose scree and boulders on the usually snow-free summit slopes.
5. Cerro Acotango—6,052m
For those looking to tick that 6,000-meter peak box with the minimum of fuss and effort, the stratovolcano of Cerro Acotango on the border of Bolivia and Chile is about as sure a bet as you’re likely to come across.
In summer months, hikers can be ferried up to above 5,500 meters on a dirt road by local tour groups and then follow a sharply inclined but straightforward path on the scree slopes leading to the summit.
At only 6,020 meters, Bolivia’s remote Uturuncu is not only the lowest mountain on our list but also one of the easiest.
Given that—like Cerro Acotango—the world’s highest motorable road can be taken as high as 5,500 meters up the mountain, barring acclimatization difficulties this one should be an easy stroll for even moderately fit hikers and in summer months can be summited without crampons or an ice-axe.
7. Stok Kangri—6,153m
Many a more intrepid visitor to Ladakh’s high-altitude capital of Leh has been inspired by the mere sight of this aesthetically appealing mountain to trade the cafes and bazaars of the town for a few high-altitudes sleeps and a slightly testy summit day on the way to the peak.
Hikers taking on Stok Kangri begin the approach near the ancient gompa at Stok and in most cases make either one or two overnight stops on their way to either the regular base camp at 4,900m or the advanced base camp at the foot of the Stok Glacier, a mere 200m in elevation closer to the summit.
The summit day starts with a traverse of the glacier before then climbing more steeply (on terrain that is often tricky if there has been recent snowfall) to the summit ridge, just 300m of ascent from the summit proper and stupendous views over Hemis National Park and over to the giants of Nun and Kun to the west.
In total, the return trip from Leh takes around 4-7 days, depending on how well you have acclimatized before setting off.
Although the highest mountain on our list, Argentina’s Aconcagua—the highest mountain in the Americas—is also the least technical if done via the normal route, which is essentially a very long, breathless hike that requires little to no technical proficiency beyond the use of crampons and an ice-axe.
The success rate of 40%, however, warns that this is far from a stroll, and the altitude gain from the Plaza Argentina Base Camp at 4,200m means this not an undertaking to be taken lightly. From the airport in Mendoza, hikers should account for a 20 to 25-day round trip.
9. Pisang Peak—6,081m
Another hugely popular trekking peak, the Annapurna region’s Pisang Peak is a slightly trickier proposition than other mountains on our list but, due to its non-technical nature, still merits classification as a “trekking peak” and very doable 6000er.
The trail for prospective summiters of Pisang Peak begins just above the town of Pisang on the Annapurna Circuit. From there, hikers can take a cab or bus to Beshiswar and begin the 4-5 day hike to Pisang along the standard trekking route.
Most teams assemble a base camp at around 4,200m and a high camp at around 5,200m on the mountain’s aesthetic west ridge, from where the route to the summit is occasionally steep but never overly challenging for anyone with a decent amount of mountaineering experience.
10. Mera Peak—6,476m
A moderately challenging mountain that features an easy glacier crossing and only one short slope on which a fixed rope is required, Mera Peak in Makalu Barun National Park is Nepal’s highest trekking peak.
From the top of Mera, there are views of Cho Oyu (8201m), Lhotse (8516m), Everest (8848m) and Makalu (8463m), on very clear days, even Kangchenjunga (8586m) on the Indian border to the east.
From Lukla (2800m), hikers should make the trek to Tangnag via the Hinku Valley, which allows for a more gradual and less risky acclimatization process than heading straight over the 4610m Zatr La pass, as some trekking agencies are apt.
In total, the return trip from Lukla or Kathmandu will take from 14-18 days. With longer glacier sections and a short ice climb on the summit dome, Mera is more technical than other mountains on our list but doable even for hikers with minimal experience in the use of crampons and ice-axe.
Owing to the inherent troubles posed by the lack of oxygen and often freezing temperatures, it’s hard to term any 6000-meter peak “easy” without laying a healthy pinch of salt on the side.
That said, in the above list we’ve seen ten peaks that—given proper acclimatization—are hugely doable and well worth considering for anyone keen to get that first high-altitude experience under their belts.