Mountains That Moved Us

In celebration of International Mountain Day (11 December), we asked the Montane HQ team about their favourite mountain memories.

Mountains can broaden our horizons and push our physical limits. They help us to see the world from a unique and humbling perspective. They can in equal parts challenge, inspire, and fill us with awe. Ultimately mountains enable us to experience nature on its grandest scale, providing us with a place to reach new heights and recharge.

Between our team of adventurers we have countless epic tales of mountains climbed across the globe. This includes right here in the UK bagging Scottish Munros and seeing the seasons change in Eryri (Snowdonia), to exploring bigger mountains further afield. 

Here are just a few of the mountain days that have stood out to us over the years and what you can expect if you choose to seek out these special summits for yourself…

Antisana, Ecuador | Nick Brown, Outlet Store

Climbing mountains in Ecuador is a unique experience. You can go from being in a bustling city in sweltering 30-degree heat, to camping at the edge of a glacier, to summiting in -20 degrees as the sun comes up, all within 12 hours. The area known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes contains some of the highest active volcanoes on earth, as well as the point furthest from the centre of the earth. Antisana was the last of the big Ecuadorian volcanos for me to climb and significantly was the most satisfying.

Although not the tallest, it was the most technical, with an ever-changing glacier and complex terrain to negotiate. We camped at the foot of the glacier just off the dirt track. An early, slightly uncomfortable night in a tent, led to a midnight wakeup. Setting off across the glacier with just head torches for vision can be unsettling. You’re never quite sure how far you have to go or what the mountain has in store for you, this can make for an anxious climb. Along with gasping for air at 18,000ft meant this was quite challenging.

The sun was rising as we were approaching the summit. The light spread across the stunning landscape with the glacier-capped volcanoes of Chimborazo and Cotopaxi to the north and Cayambe to the south. The Amazon rainforest drops down to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The name the Avenue of the Volcanoes never felt so appropriate. Morning clouds hung in the valleys beneath the peaks and we sat on the large frozen plateaued summit taking it all in, whilst dreading the descent…

Antisana Ecuador South America

Mount Toubkal, Morocco | Steph Robinson, Social Media Manager

Standing tall within the Atlas Mountains at 14,671ft (4,167m), Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in Northern Africa and in the Arabian world. Climbing it offers incredible views of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. As the perfect peak to ‘bag’ for an introduction to 4000m+ mountains, Toubkal is mostly a non-technical climb, but still offers a great challenge.

The number of days to climb to the summit of Toubkal and back down depends on the guide you hire; I chose to complete it within two days. You don’t need a guide if you’re an experienced hiker, but this was my first 4000m peak, so I wanted the guidance. Hiking with a guide is a great way to meet like-minded people too!

Prepare for an early start as the trek begins at a small village in the Atlas Mountains named Imlil, where I began a full day of walking, passing through remote villages and saying hello to the Berber locals, who have the pleasure of enjoying these dramatic mountain views every day. Make sure to stop by the fresh orange juice stall, guaranteed to be the nicest orange juice you’ll ever taste and the break you’ll need after a long, sweaty hike!

The well-pathed route took me on a gradual 10km hike to the Refuge at 3200m (daily elevation gain total 1540m) where I stayed the night with other adventurers. Top tip: take earbuds and an eye mask, you’ll be sharing a dorm with around 30 people and sleeping within close proximity of others (unless you pay extra for a single room) so it can get very crowded and noisy. After a long day, I had some hot food and a cold shower, and headed off to bed before a 3am start the next day to catch the sunrise!

Wake up while it’s dark and begin the final climb. A chilly start meant lots of layers were needed in comparison to the scorcher day before, but I soon warmed up with the steep climb to the ridge before the final ascent to the summit, just in time to watch the sunrise (daily elevation total of 1130m). The views from Toubkal are stunning with mountain layers for as far as your eyes can see. The only downside is the amount of people at the summit, I’d probably guess there were a few hundred! After a few photos and celebration, I began the long descent back to Imlil (daily mileage total of 17 km). The second day was longer and more tiring than the first, but once I reached Imlil after 10-12 hours of hiking, I was ready for a freezing cold beer and takeaway pizza… a weekend well spent!

Mount Toubkal Morocco International Mountain Day

Ben More, Mull, Scotland | Fran Wilson, Montane Digital Marketing Manager 

The first glimpse of Ben More’s pyramid-like 986m peak on the Isle of Mull is breathtaking to behold. It dominates this magical Scottish Island’s skyline. Whilst it wasn’t originally on our planned itinerary to climb it as part of our trip here, camping in its foothills and balmy Scottish weather proved too great a lure not to give it a go. I had also heard there was a series of idyllic fairy pools located along the start of the path, which I was eager to check out.

Many Munro baggers save Ben More to take on last and so I knew I might see some fellow hikers popping prosecco at the top. We didn’t encounter this, but I can see why you would want to celebrate conquering it! The climb up is unrelentingly steep and a challenge - especially in the heat we encountered.

We pushed on and were glad we did once we reached the top. The views that await at the top are out of this world. Taking in the rest of Mull and out towards the Outer Hebrides, as well as inland, looking across the Scottish Highlands. This memorable climb was made more special by the fact we were joined by our dog Oti, who effortlessly bounded up her first mountain. A refreshing post-hike dip in the crystal clear pools at Ben More’s base topped off our day perfectly! 

Ben More Mull Scotland International Mountain Day

Dzongri Peak, Sikkim, India | Anna Pitman, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager

After a slightly gruelling eight-hour drive we arrived in Yuksom, a tiny village in North West Sikkim, on the edge of the Kanchedzongha National Park. Over several days our trek would take us past a rich array of native flora and fauna, to a backdrop of Himalayan peaks including Mount Kanchenjunga (the world's third-highest mountain).

Having experienced almost a week of thick clouds, on our first morning, we woke up to blue skies that thankfully lasted throughout the trek, with heavy winter snow that closed the trails falling within days of our return to Yuksom. Daytime was sunny and warm, while the nights were deeply cold, often waking to ice on our tent.

Tucked in between India’s Himalayan range, Southern Tibet, and Western Bhutan, the scenery, culture, and food in Sikkim feel a world away from other Indian states we have visited since. The trek culminated at Dzongri Peak (around 4,200m), watching the sun rise over Mount Kanchenjunga – it was such a beautiful and peaceful experience! This was my first visit to India and my first multi-day trek, which holds a really special place in my heart.

Dzongri Peak, Sikkim, India International Mountain Day

Valbona Pass, The Balkans, Albania | Hannah Campbell, Sell Through Team Manager

I have endless stories about summits and peaks from all over the world, but my absolute favourite mountain day doesn’t technically involve a peak at all. Earlier this summer I flew to Albania to explore the Theth National Park.

As soon as I stepped out of the car and looked up to the Balkans I was blown away. They’re jagged and towering like the Italian Dolomites, but have a quiet, less travelled curiosity about them. The trails are hot, dusty, and littered with dogs from the surrounding villages. The climbs are steep and unforgiving, but breathtakingly beautiful.

I wouldn’t choose to go during a heatwave again, but if you happen to find yourself in this glorious landscape during the hotter months, you’ll be thankful for the small mountain-side bars that provide relief from the heat. This is day one on the Peaks of the Balkans route, and if it is anything to go by, then this is an absolute must-do trail and is one for my 2024 bucket list.

Valbona Pass The Balkans Albana | International Mountain Day

More Mountain Inspiration

For more ideas to explore the world’s mountains, take a look at #TeamMontane’s favourite Scottish Munros to bag, as well as suggestions on how you can travel to the mountains more sustainably to help reduce your carbon footprint when doing so.