It’s that time of year again – I’m planning a hike in the European Alps, that incredible theme park for lovers of alpine trekking.
After tackling the Tour du Mt Blanc in recent summers I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to find another Europe hike to match or top that wonderful experience.
To aid me in my decision I have been poring over Trekking in the Alps, an excellent book from Cicerone, and edited by Tour du Mt Blanc guide editor Kev Reynolds.
This covers 20 classic routes in the European Alps and there is a huge range to choose from. This hiking book includes hikes in France, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia and Austria.
It also covers some incredible treks that take hikers, as with the Tour du Mt Blanc, across the borders of multiple European countries.
The most epic is the Grande Traversata delle Alpi (or GTA if you’re short on time) and I might have to leave this one until I’m retired because it takes a full 47 days!
This trek skirts the big mountains of the Alps, staying mainly in the foothills. An alternative that is more alpine in nature, crossing big passes is the GR5 through the French Alps from Lac Leman at Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea.
Ultra long distance hikes like these can, of course, be broken up into more achievable chunks. This guide book offers suggestions for shorter routes and variations available to walkers.
Trekking in the Alps is an excellent resource for researching and initial planning of a European hike. It covers the most famous treks in the Alps – the ones I’d really love to achieve. It truly is a compilation of the best walking in the Alps.
Editor Kev Raynolds and eight other authors provide comprehensive summaries of each route, including photos, a map and an elevation diagram. There’s enough information in this glossy book to allow hikers to make an educated choice of walking holiday.
This book includes treks with a range of difficulty from only mildly demanding to properly strenuous. There are a few where you will need skills and equipment to cross glaciers.
One particular lifegoal is the Walkers’ Haute Route. This follows the Pennine Alps and offers views of some of the most stunning panoramas in Europe. This sounds like a tough and adventurous route and one of the most beautiful in Europe.
So what’s it going to be for the Wandering Kiwi this summer in the Alps? I am limited to one week of hiking and want to do something fairy strenuous. Everyone’s hiking holiday will be different and there are options for everyone.
After much enjoyable reading of this book I and browsing some other Cicerone guides I came up with a couple of different options. I could hike in the Hohe Tauern National Park of Austria, giving me the excuse at last to drive the Gross-Glockner High Alpine Road.
Or I will head for the Dolomite mountains of Italy. There are a series of long-distance walks in the Dolomites dubbed Alta Via 1 through 6. I did some day walks on a trip to Italy’s Dolomite Mountains back in 2007 and ever since I have been itching to return.
I was impressed by the warm welcome of the mountain huts and loved the sections of Via Ferrata (Iron Way) we completed. This area has loads of opportunities for rewarding hiking and I’m reading Cicerone’s Trekking in the Dolomites.
Thanks Cicerone for not only helping choose my trekking holiday this year, but for inspiring me for many years to come!
By Natasha von Geldern
Where would you like to hike in the European Alps?