The European Alps: Portrait
- As I get up and walk down the wooden stairs, I enter the small eating room with wooden tables and chairs, the small windows decorated with little flowers outside give me a first idea of the weather for this day. Yesterday we reached the Tilisuna hut in the Austrian Rätikon after a hike from the Montafon valley, just before the sky went dark and a heavy, short shower pushed everybody inside. It was all over after a few minutes, but it cooled down and we stayed inside for the rest of the evening, having a hearty dinner before we went upstairs to bed.
- The hike today is the second leg in a seven-day trek around this marvelous mountain range, separating Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein. We walk along grey limestone faces and long stretches of green alpine pastures. The sky is blue again and we ascend a col in front of a frightening looking black stoned peak before starting downwards towards the Lindauer Hütte for lunch. There are just a few other hikers on the way, leaving us a lot of space to enjoy the scenery unspoiled.
- The European Alps strech between the Mediterean coast and the Pannonian Basin. They include parts of France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Slovenia.
- The best months for trekking are from September to October, but summer months are great too. During spring, the valleys are full in green but the mountains still have a lot of snow.
- The main season for ski touring starts in December and ends, depending on the altitude, in May or later.
The European Alps: Activities & actual conditions
- Austria, Slovenia, South Tyrol, Germany: peaks up to 3.900 m with a lot of variety terrain and perfect hut infrastructure.
- Switzerland, Italy, France: up to 4.800m high with a lot of glaciated terrain and famous haute-routes.
- Alternatively, ski stations can be found almost in every valley.
- The Alps are mostly of limestone and granit and offer everything from trad climbing, sports routes to classic alpine climbs in mixed terrain.
- Climbing can be done in all 4 seasons. The most preferred month is September as the days are still long but the weather much more stable than during summer.
- Trekking is the most popular activity in the Alps. The network of trails and paths is immense and well documented and signed. Huts are guarded during summer months.
- The via ferrata is a speciality of the Alps: very steep trails secured by cables and ladders which climb rocky walls and ridges normally terrain only to alpinists.
- Ice climbing is possible in all parts of the Alps, mostly during January and February.
- Alpine ice climbing is even more known for long north faces like Eiger and Matterhorn.
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The European Alps Travel Information
- Visa for US & CAN citizens: no visa required for stays up to 90 days in EU-Countries and Switzerland; other nationalities please check this site: Schengen Visa
- Currency: Euro (EUR) – Converter EUR and Swiss Frank (CHF) – Converter CHF
- Time zone: UTC +1 or 6 hours ahead of New York City
- Country domains: .at (A), .fr (F), .it (I), .de (D), .ch (CH), .si (SLO)
- Country phone codes: +43 (A), +49 (D), +39 (I), +33 (F), +41 (CH), +386 (SLO)
- Emergency: 112