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Climbing the five-thousanders. How to choose? Where to start?


For most people 5000 meters above sea level sounds like something unreal and unattainable! There are a large number of peaks above five kilometers that any physically fit person can climb, and sometimes without special mountaineering training.

Climbing simple 5,000m peaks (Kala Pattar) allows you to test your body on how it feels at higher altitudes. And climbing "real" mountaineering routes allows you to gain the right technical experience on the way to more difficult and/or higher peaks. 

Why it's needed. An altitude of 5,000m or more is key for your first "high-altitude" experience. Most people already need acclimatization and adaptation to function properly at this altitude. This is especially true for "high" five-thousanders (5,500 meters and higher). Unlike at 4,000m where you can climb at good physical condition and good pace without preliminary adaptation. 

A good experience at 5000m is often the first successful step in the chain of preparation for higher peaks! 

How to choose the first five-thousandth peak for climbing? 

Восхождение на Арарат

There are many summits to climb. They are very diverse, and can be both full-fledged mountaineering and high-altitude trekking. And the program is both purely to achieve the summit, and to explore the exotic country in which the summit is located. 

All summits can be divided into peaks "for beginners" and peaks that do not require a high technical level. Let's allocate some criteria on which we will choose the first five thousand meter peak: 

  • Technical difficulty of the climb. Whether any special skills and/or prior preparation are needed. Also, the difficulty directly affects the necessary equipment.
  • Cost. The summit may be quite far from home (expensive logistics), and the program - include a large number of services (next point), additional excursions, as well as possible fees and charges (permit, entrances to national parks).
  • Availability of service on the mountain. Many of the programs described below include base and assault camp services, meals, deliveries, etc. This affects the price, but it also affects your comfort during the climb. If you want to care about everyday life as little as possible, go with a light backpack and only enjoy the process - it is worth paying attention to programs with maximum service.
  • Duration of the program. Depending on the time of arrival and approach to the mountain, as well as the presence or presence of excursion days and rest days - the timing of climbs can vary greatly (from a week to two weeks). You can choose the trip that best suits your time request.
  • Seasonality. Different mountain systems are subject to different seasonality and specific weather and trail conditions at different times. Knowing this, you can choose the best option for your free time.   

Let's look at several options for five-thousanders, based on these criteria: 


Climbing Ararat (5137 m)


The technical complexity of the ascent. Ararat is rightfully considered one of the easiest five-thousanders. The ascent is more of a high-altitude trekking, which does not require any special training. Up to a height of 5000 meters it is a movement on the mountain path and rocky scree. However, the apical part is snow-covered, has a glacier and requires moving in crampons (without ropes; cracks and dangerous when falling slopes along the route are absent), so that the photos of the summit on the background of snowy ridges are provided 🙂 

The price is 850 euros. The details about the cost can be found in the description of the climbing Ararat.

The availability of services on the mountain. Ararat is one of the best options in terms of the ratio of services on the mountain to the cost. This destination is not yet super popular, so the price for an almost "all-inclusive ascent" is rather low. The price includes all transfers, accommodation in good hotels in the town of Dogubayazit, all equipment, including personal gear, is delivered to the camps on horseback, tents in the camps are set up by local staff, all meals, including even lunchboxes for the passages, and the use of dining tents with furniture are included in the price, as well as the rental of cats for the summit day. 

Восхождение на Арарат

Program Duration. 8 days per program (including 1 day of rest and excursions in Van and days of departure-arrival). It is better to arrive the day before the start or early morning on the first day, as the group's move to the mountain starts in the morning. 

Seasonality. The optimum time for ascents is summer. Until June, there is still a lot of snow on the mountain, and in the fall begin strong winds and frosts. Climbing takes place until the end of September. At a later time, the clothing and equipment requirements increase dramatically. However, climbs, with the necessary equipment and preparation, can take place at any time, even in winter (in which case the cost, duration and services are different). 


Climbing Kilimanjaro (5895 m)


The technical complexity of the ascent. Kilimanjaro is one of the "oldest" climbing programs, which Couloir has been conducting for many years. Despite the fact that this is the highest point of the entire African continent and without 100 meters 6000-nik, you can climb this mountain in simple trekking boots, and most of the way on the mountain is warm enough. In fact, it is a high trekking, but in the case of bad weather and strong winds you can feel the "real" 5900 meters, so the stock of "right" and warm clothing should be, despite the proximity of the Equator.  

Price from $2,950. Read more about prices and services in the description of the program of climbing Kilimanjaro.

The presence of services on the mountain. This, too, is an "all-inclusive ascent". All household chores are taken care of by local staff. Meals on the mountain are more than excellent, all the camps are preset, and all the stuff is carried by the porters. This price includes all transfers, accommodation, safari organization, visits to the national parks Ngorongoro and Terengire and other attractions, work of the Kuluar teamleader and local guide.  

Восхождение на Кили

The duration of the program of 12 days, including Safari and vacation in Zanzibar. If you want from these excursion sections can be abandoned, but it is unlikely you will return to this place for Safari, so we recommend to stay for the whole program 🙂

Seasonality. Since Kilimanjaro is close to the Equator, the season here, you could say, all year round. But from April to mid-June is the rainy season in the region, which means both worse weather on the mountain and difficulty in conducting Safaris, so this is the only time to really avoid. 

Ascent of Cala Pattar (5648 m)


The technical difficulty of the ascent. Kala Pattar is a small shoulder summit in the southwestern ridge of the seven-thousandth peak of Pumori. It is also the highest point that can be climbed during the trek to Everest Base Camp, and technically is not much different from the difficulty on the trek. You can climb in trekking boots or even sneakers. The advantage of this ascent is that the participants come to the foot (the village of Gorak Shep) fully acclimatized after a long trek. 

Cost. Trekking cost to EBC (Everest Base Camp) from 870 USD. Read more about the cost in the description of the Everest trekking program.

You can get service on the mountain. Accommodation at lodges for the whole trek and meals at the same place. All heavy equipment is carried by porters, and participants walk the track with only small backpacks, so this program can be classified as very comfortable. Along the way you can get paid Internet, charge your gadgets, and in larger settlements (e.g., Namche Bazaar) you can easily find a coffee house bakeries or lodges with private showers, hot water and even heated beds 🙂

Восхождение на Кала-Паттар

Program duration. 15 days from Kathmandu to Kathmandu. If possible, we recommend to have some extra days for bad weather in Lukla (you should take a small plane to get there, so cloudiness is critical). If there are no delays, you can use these days for excursions to Kathmandu, go to the south to Chitwan national park to look at animals or to Pokhara, a beautiful and quiet city with a view of the Annapurna massif. 

Seasonality. The optimal time is spring and fall. In the spring, the trek is very beautiful, with rhododendrons blooming and lots of greenery, but the weather in the afternoon tends to deteriorate. In the fall it is clearer but windy. The winter months are also suitable for this trip, but you should dress much warmer. But in the summer, you should not come here categorically - it's the monsoon period.    


Climbing Kazbek (5033 m)


Technical complexity of the ascent. Unlike previous summits, Kazbek is real alpinist climbing in ligades and with ropes. Basic mountaineering skills (moving in ligades, cramponing, self-holding) and excellent physical condition are very desirable for participation. For the right technical level you can take our initial course of snow and ice training in the Carpathians. Participants will be full participants of the bundle, and Kuluar team leaders serve as guides on the ascent. On the classic route on the south side on the way there will be scree moraines at the bottom, the glacier with cracks, steep snow and ice slopes. 

Price. 830€. Read more about the cost in the description of climbing  Kazbek.

VIP climbing on Kazbek. Read more in the program description.

Восхождение на Казбек

Availability of service on the mountain. In 2021 we were the only ones with our own base camp on the mountain. It's a big tent with a table and chairs and fixed personal tents. In 2022 we'll finish it up, and there'll be more goodies waiting for you. For 2022 we have significantly perfected the program of climbing Kazbek from Georgia, making it as safe as possible (1 to 3 teamleaders to clients ratio), comfortable (own base camp, overnight in the shelter Altikhat) and result-oriented (all inclusive).

Program duration. 8  days. 

Seasonality. Optimal ascent time: end of June - end of September. Couloir also conducts winter and spring programs, which require more experience and training from participants, as well as more demanding equipment. 


Climbing Orisaba (5636 m)


The technical difficulty of the ascent. Technically the classical route to Orisaba is very conditioned. In low snowy periods the upper part can be completely icy, and then it will probably be the most difficult object in our list! In snowy periods the route is technically comparable to climbing Mont Blanc, and may be a bit more difficult, and more time-consuming, than Kazbek. Be that as it may, Orisaba is a mountain that requires moving in bundles and confident cramped hiking on steep slopes. 

Price. From $1,700. Description of the program and conditions of of climbing Orizaba.

Availability of service on the mountain. As in most of our programs, most of the domestic problems are solved by the Couloir 🙂 The standard price includes all transportation, accommodation in Mexico City in a good hotel and in the highlands in the guest houses, taking the whole group and equipment to the base camp at 4200 m, work Kuluar teamleader and local Mexican guides at a ratio of 1 guide per 2 participants, all meals on the mountain, the use of tents or a hut at 4200 m.  


Восхождение на Орисаба

Program Duration. 8 days from Mexico City to Mexico City. Do not forget that the flight to America is not quick. Well, once you are here, we suggest you book more days, for example, to relax on the beaches of Cancun, viewing the Mayan pyramids and amazing cenotes.   

Seasonality. The optimum time - from November to March, which is very convenient, because in the nearby regions at this time of winter and easy, and most importantly not cold options. April-May is rainy season, and precipitation at this time more, so this period is not optimal. The rest of the time in the mountains and in the country as a whole is quite hot.   


Climbing Demavend (5610 m)


The technical complexity of the ascent. Demavend, like Ararat, is a great option for the first uncomplicated experience at 5000. The mountain does not require special technical skills, but at the top of the mountain you often need crampons. Plus, the 5600 altitude makes the climb quite labor intensive, and the weather can be quite harsh. Nevertheless, the good infrastructure on the mountain and the incredibly colorful Iran allows us to call this program something akin to "an uncomplicated five-thousand mountain with a trip to Iran. 

Availability of services on the mountain. The services on the mountain are not as advanced as on Kilimanjaro, but the ascent cannot be called self-contained, because most of the everyday problems are solved. The price includes the work of the team leader, all transfers, accommodation in Tehran, meals and accommodation in the huts on the mountain and even the transportation of things by mules between the huts.   

Восхождение на Демавенд

Duration of the program. 8 days. We strongly recommend to stay in this country longer and visit Isfahan and other attractions. Believe me, you will not regret it!

Seasonality. The optimal time is spring and autumn. In summer it is too hot on the mountain, and in the region, and in winter it is cold and snowy. 


Climbing Cotopaxi (5897 m)


The technical complexity of the ascent. Cotopaxi is the highest peak on our list, and also not the easiest. There are endless snowfields, glacial crevasses and sometimes steep walls of snow and ice on the way up. In addition the route is quite long and time consuming. So if you do not have any experience in climbing, we strongly recommend you to pass our school in the Carpathians and get ready, it can be rather difficult 🙂 If you have experience of other ascents (e.g. Mont Blanc or Kazbek) and you are in good shape, then you can definitely go with confidence. The ascent to Cotopaxi can be the main ascent in the program (then the acclimatization is carried out on one of the lower volcanoes in Ecuador, such as Ilinita), or the first ascent before the ascent to Chimborazo, the highest point of Ecuador and the only one here 6000-nik.   

Price. From $2,370 for two climbs. See for details here - climbing Cotopaxi .

Service availability on the mountain. Ecuador is one of the most unique countries in terms of climbing comfort. There are comfortable alpine type huts under all the big peaks, you can drive up to them, it takes 8-12 hours to climb from the hut to the summit, and you can celebrate in civilization the same day. For example, the program Cotopaxi + Chimborazo is the only program in which in 10 days you can see the country, climb volcano Pichincha (4700 m), the two great peaks (5900 and 6300) and still have every chance to relax on the ocean 🙂 The price of the program includes a team leader, all transfers, accommodation, meals and accommodation in huts and on climbs, the work of local certified guides (1 guide per 2 participants), all permissions and permits. 

Восхождение на Котопакси

Duration of the program. 10 days. Ecuador is an amazing country, and we recommend that you stay here for a while. There are a lot of cool and interesting places: the Ocean and surfing, the Amazon, volcanoes, hot springs, historical sites, and the coolest option - a flight to the Galapagos (in this case we advise you to make 5-6 days more).    

Seasonality. The uniqueness of Ecuador is that it is in season all year round and climbing is always possible, and Cotopaxi is statistically the volcano with the most number of clear days in the Ecuadorian Andes! However, we advise to refrain from the summer months, this is the dry season with the strongest winds. The high season is December-January. It is also dry but no wind during this time and for private travellers you have a possibility to arrange your holidays on the Christmas and New Year's weekends.

The choice of the five-thousandth is large. Choose the one that suits your goals and objectives, and leave a request.

Kuluar - your life-changing mountain experience!


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