Trekking over the Alps
On March 5th we were treated to a wonderful illustrated talk by Rotarian Horst Lindenbeck from our sister Rotary club of Erlangen, Germany, about his adventure in the summer of 2019. This was the fulfilment of an idea he had been dreaming up for 20 years, but because it would take four weeks, it had to wait until he retired. Most of us would be thinking of a gentle, restful holiday in the sun, but Horst, then aged 64, chose a walk of 560kms from North to South, including ascents totalling 24000 mts, and a similar number of descents.
To ensure he had the blessing of his wife Dagmar, Horst asked his long-time friend Mateus to accompany him. A promise not to tackle a 600mt sheer drop by fixed ropes also ensured that Dagmar would sleep more comfortably at night. For that day they managed to find an alternative route, otherwise they stuck to the official route and, with the help of GPS, they never strayed.
Setting off from Munich on 6 August they took the first 30kms by bus to avoid the midge ridden flat plain, heading towards the mountains. Passing Germany’s highest peak (Zugspitze 2962mts) they crossed into Austria’s Inn valley, then up near the BrennaPass which led them in to the most spectacular part of their journey, the Italian Dolomites.
Each day’s walk offered a variety of distances along valleys and over passes, staying at Refugios at night, sometimes very high up. These were not 5 star, probably nearer to 1 star, often with basic amenities, varying sizes of sleeping arrangements or dormitories shared with many other walkers – or “snoring bastards” as Horst referred to them.
They had wisely kept their clothing to a minimum, the rucksacks weighing no more than 12kgs, and the most important items of equipment were the two walking poles.
It was quite a challenge, not always fun, but with determination they completed the journey on 3rd September in Venice, feeling an immense sense of satisfaction. Horst said at the beginning of his talk that we would not really experience the immense beauty of the Dolomites from his photos, but I think he underestimated his skill as a photographer.
Would he do it again? Yes, definitely, possibly South to North another time.
His message, for anyone considering a similar challenge: Don’t be overwhelmed by emotion or optimism, know your limits and don’t over-estimate your abilities.