Before setting out to achieve your childhood dream of climbing Everest, you might want to start with something smaller to break in your boots, crampons, and ice axe. We recommend some low-altitude hikes up some of America's most beautiful (and less challenging) peaks, to not only get a taste for thin air but also appreciate what the lower 48 has to offer. Best of all, you don't have to go to the Swiss Alps or Nepal's Himalayas to find phenomenal views, manageable approaches, hanging glaciers, granite faces, stunning aretes, and rewarding alpine views, all for a relatively easy experience in the mountains.
Mount Adams The eastern range of the Cascades in Washington state hosts several active and dormant volcanic peaks, among them Mount Adams (pictured), the third-tallest volcano in the range. This peak has several diverse and rare alpine features for its elevation, like the prominent Mazama Glacier with a ramp-like headwall and plenty of crevasses — a more challenging route to the top that requires at least a rope and a partner. The South Spur, however, makes for a far less challenging approach — most of it an uphill hike through the snow — but an ice axe and crampons (particularly in the winter season) are recommended. Class 2, 12,276 ft.