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Road to Everest: Intermediate Peaks

Intermediate peaks are a critical component on the Road to Everest. Once a climber has completed the preceding components of taking intro courses and climbing intro peaks, they are ready to consider mountains in the 6000m plus range with increased technical difficulty. The increased difficulty starts with longer approaches, more complex routes, and increased altitude challenges. Intermediate peaks will test climbers both in camp craft and glacier travel, but also in the ability for their body to safely acclimatize.


Tests of Planning, Endurance, and Motivation

Walking along a ridge on Huayna Potosi
Walking along a ridge on Huayna Potosi

As a general rule of thumb, intermediate peaks are usually between 6000m and 7000m and don’t have trailheads that you can easily drive to. They usually involve a trek of some length to reach base camp (unless you fly a helicopter), and include one or more camps on the mountain prior to the summit. Climbers are tested by having to solve the logistics of approaching the peak, and then following that up with good weather and route conditions assessment while preparing for a strong summit push. The back to back days of stress are a great measuring stick for a climbers progression and can indicate areas that need improvement before moving up the ladder towards Everest.


Altitude Feedback Loop

Altitude difficulties can strain a climber’s ability to recover and provides much-needed feedback about the body’s ability to acclimatize. This information is critical in the feedback loop of a climber’s journey higher. If there are minor difficulties at this point, a climber can learn tactics to combat these setbacks with a variety of solutions. If there are major difficulties, a climber may have to reassess their entire goal of climbing Everest. This is obviously good to learn earlier rather than later on the flank of Everest far away from immediate assistance.


Some Good Options

There is no definitive guide on intermediate peaks across the world, but some offerings from our team here at Alpenglow fit the bill. Take a look at our Bolivia expedition for a wild foray into remote valleys or our Peruvian expedition that journeys onto peaks ranging between 18,000′ and 20,000′. You can also learn more about the entire Road to Everest by taking a look at our outline and guide to preparing for the world’s tallest peak.