An Insider's Tips on Adventuring in the Alps
I attended a free REI community class - Adventuring in the Alps - in Portland, Oregon, and gained useful and viable information from the presenter, Brittany Haas—Chief Adventure Officer of Alpenventures UNGUIDED. The summary for the class on REI's website stated:
"Hut-to-hut hikes, via ferrata, climbing, mountaineering, bicycle tours and more - get inspired to go beyond the classics in the Alps without a guide, and take on an adventure the way the locals do! Brittany Haas from Munich, Germany, is joining us to share information and tips on how to find the hidden adventure gems of the Alps. We will cover everything from locations and adventures, to food, culture, planning, logistics and more. Join us for a virtual journey through the Alps as we cross green meadows, climb dramatic peaks, traverse rock faces, cycle from Munich to Venice, and relax in mountain huts. Brittany Haas, a former trip leader and instructor for the Colorado Mountain Club, has been living in Germany and adventuring in the Alps for the last four years. She has discovered that the best adventure opportunities in the Alps are not easily searchable in English, and now dedicates herself to connecting English-speaking adventurers with spectacular tours that go beyond the classics."
Brittany’s insider tips:
1) Fly to an adventure in the Alps during the off-season.
The off-season months in the Alps are April, October, and November. Flying during the off-season can save up to 60% on airfare. You may experience some snow in the Alps at that time, but overall the weather is calm. Brittany's suggestions for checking weather and flights:
2) Bike touring through the Alps is for all ages and fitness levels.
Have you ever heard of an electric bike? Electric bikes are used in Europe to cross the Alps. Brittany said, "I once had an eighty-year-old man fly by me on an eBike." Electric bikes are making it possible for all ages and fitness level to participate in bike tours. You can adjust the settings on the bike according to the degree of help you may need. Or you can ride a touring bike across the Alps. You decide.
Learn more about the eBike:
Buyer's Guide: Best E-Bikes
You can bike one-way through the Alps and take a train home. Bikes are allowed on trains.
Rent a bike in Europe. European touring bikes provide long-distance comfort.
3) The locals experience the Alps in a Euro-style van.
Remember the Volkswagon Bus? In Europe, you can rent a Volkswagen or Mercedes van (bus) and travel through the Alps. The camper van is how the locals do it. It is illegal to backcountry camp in Europe, but you can park along backcountry roads and stay in your car for the night. Euro travel vans have a mini kitchen, bed, and storage. Four people will fit in the van, but Brittany recommended to go with only two people. It is a much more comfortable ride, and you do not have to move things around in the van to set up a second bed. Located at the top of the van is the main bed. Here is a video of Brittany showcasing her Mercedes camper van. She can help you rent one.
4) Forget everything you know about hiking in the United States.
When most Europeans hike, their packs are light. What makes a lightweight bag possible? Mountain huts with food, beds, and bedding are available throughout the Alps, eliminating the need to carry many supplies. The huts have to be reserved weeks or months before you stay the night. The sleeping arrangements are common rooms, so be prepared to sleep in a community setting. It varies whether you have a warm or cold shower, or maybe none. For those used to upscale hotel accommodations; the huts will be rudimentary. For those used to camping in a tent, the shelters will be a great comfort. Brittany gave us a list of what you carry when hiking hut-to-hut:
Hut sleeping bag liner (required)
Slippers or sandals to wear around the hut
Cash in the appropriate currency
For more information on biking, hiking, climbing (including Via Ferrata), mountaineering, and traveling through the Alps, contact Brittany Haas at Alpenventures UNGUIDED.
Photography by Krivec Ales from Pexels.