Preclimb points to remember: carry plenty of drinking water to ward off dehydration at higher altitudes; pack warm, waterproof gear; take it easy on the throttle, because ascending slowly will help you acclimatize to the thinner air; and, for safety's sake, consider hiring a local guide who knows the route and can read the mountain's moods. With that checklist complete, all you need to do is choose your summit. Here are four of our regional favorites:
It may be an easy 30-minute hike from car park to crater rim, but Bromo's frequent rumbles and gaseous emissions serve to remind visitors not to take this giant too lightly. Time your trip to Java's famed volcano for the dry season (June through October), and clear skies should afford stunning views of the surrounding Tengger Caldera. Sunrise watchers should start out at 3 a.m. from the nearby town of Cemoro Lawang, and cross the Lautan Pasir—the sandy plain at the volcano's base. From here, a concrete staircase leads to the summit and (weather permitting) a spectacular dawn.
Mount Fuji, Japan, 3,776 m
"He who does not climb Mount Fuji once in his life is a fool; he who climbs it twice is also a fool," so a Japanese saying goes. But in fact it's not as difficult as the proverb would have you believe. If arriving from Tokyo or Osaka, begin your ascent at Fujinomiya 5th station—a convenient trailhead—and bank on a five-hour trek to the top. Rest huts along the way sell noodles and will rent you a lumpy futon for a quick nap. There are also vending machines selling beer, hot tea and—you guessed it—Fuji Film disposable cameras.
Yushan, Taiwan, 3,952 m
Icy winds and dicey switchbacks may not be every climber's cup of Milo, but for those who reach the summit of Taiwan's tallest peak, the views of Yushan ("Jade Mountain") National Park are worth every tentative step. October to December see conditions at their best, and beds at "base camp"—the Paiyun Hostel, located a 9-km hike from the Tatachia Recreation Area, near the Jade Mountain Scenic Highway—should be booked for this time. From here, it's a two-hour haul to the top.
Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia, 4,101 m
Southeast Asia's highest mountain gets its name from Aki Nabalu ("Mountain of the Dead")—the term used by the local Kadazan people, who believe their ancestors inhabit its highest peaks. Start the trek early from Kinabalu Park HQ, and you can make your overnight stop at the guesthouse at Laban Rata (3,300 m) in time for dinner. Most climbers rise around 3 a.m. the next day to start the final assault on the summit, Low's Peak, and catch the sunrise. Guides can help you identify the unique mountain flora—like the rat-swallowing pitcher plant—as well as ensuring that you don't get lost in the treacherous mountain mists.