Tips for getting the most out of adventures in the Alps.
Moving to Germany was life-changing for me. I expected that and actually sought it out. What I did not expect was that how I adventure in the mountains would also change. Previously, my favorite outdoor activities included backpacking and cross-country skiing. Today I do both of those a little less for various reasons, and have instead learned to embrace the unique adventures the Alps have to offer.
Here are some adventure tips I have learned:
Bike touring is perhaps the best combination of nature, culture and physical challenge that Western Europe has to offer. Tours cover a mix of cities, small villages and large sections of trail in the backcountry; all on designated bike trails or routes. I highly recommend a bike touring adventure, even for those who do not typically do it. Curious? Check out our Bike Tours.
Hut hiking tours, or at least the huts, were the highlight of my last blog post. They are worth mentioning again. There is something special about connecting a multi-day hiking tour with the mountain huts in the Alps. For more information, check out my blog post on huts or our Hut-to-Hut Hiking Tours.
Via ferratas, or iron roads, are playgrounds for adults. These are scrambling or climbing routes that are protected with a steel cable, and often have ladders, iron steps or pegs installed to assist with the climbing. Although the Dolomites are the most famous for them, spectacular via ferratas are available all over the Alps! They come in all difficulty levels, and a good head for heights is required. We are currently working on some great multi-day via ferrata tours to add to our offering.
As we all know, mountaineering is very popular in the Alps. Many mountaineers tend to set their eyes on the classics – The Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, etc. However, I recommend choosing alternate, less crowded peaks. The mountaineering possibilities are vast – there are 82 official summits over 4,000 meters that offer endless glacier and rock climbing possibilities. The quality of the experience, both on the mountain and in the hut, is likely to be much better on the non-classic routes. Check out our Glacier Mountaineering Tours, which include a mix of the classics, and other great alternatives.
Rodeln! Rodeln, or schlittenfahren, is sledding in German. European style sledding is very different than what you might imagine – going up and down the same, straight hill. In the Alps, we steer our sleds at high speeds down snow-covered, curvy forest roads. Possibilities range from groomed trails dedicated to sleds at ski resorts, where you enjoy the convenience of the ski lift, to any forest road in the backcountry that has enough snow on it. I like to drag my sled up to a winter peak, and ride down from the summit (or the nearest point to it on a forest road) with speed. For a peek at what I am talking about, check out this sledding video.
However you plan to adventure in the Alps, keep these tips in mind, and try to do at least one activity that you might not do back at home.