Winner: Shivling, India
Most Himalayan expeditions head to Nepal. But India has more than a third of the range, and not nearly as many tourists. The best way to see it is with Mandip Singh Soin, a guide who arranges logistics for mountaineers Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin when they’re in the country. Soin’s Ibex Expeditions organizes trips, ranging from mellow treks through the Gobi Desert to life-list-worthy expeditions up mountains like 21,467-foot Shivling—the so-called Matterhorn of the East in the high-alpine playground of the Gangotri Valley, headwaters of the Ganges. On the 30-day trip, you’ll trek along the sacred Bhagirathi River, visit the white-marble Gangotri Temple, and scan ridges for herds of bharal mountain goats. Then comes the hard part: 15 days to acclimatize and make a technical attempt at the monolith’s rock and ice. From $3,900; ibexexpeditions.com
Runner-Up: Buena Vista, Colorado
Almost smack dab in the middle of Colorado, the tiny town of Buena Vista has all the Centennial State’s best adventure, without the crowds. It’s also the ideal place to go peak-bagging for some of the nine epic fourteeners in the Collegiate Peaks. Stay at the log cabins at Vista Court Cabins (from $60; vistacourtcabins.com). From there you can head to 14,421-foot Mount Harvard on day one, reload with a green chile omelet at the Evergreen Cafe the next morning, and then bang out 14,204-foot Mount Princeton (maps and info at thetrailheadco.com).