Alpine 7: Attempting to climb the highest peak of each Alpine country in 7 days
I’m lucky enough to spend a fair bit of time in the Alps, through work in winter and then of my own choosing in summer. Convenience and existing connections have always lured me into the Chamonix valley. Now, this is no bad thing, it’s an incredible place to explore feeling dwarfed around giant peaks, however, the Alps is the highest and most extensive range entirely within Europe, so shouldn’t we see more of it?
With this in mind, Paul Lange, a good friend of mine and Chamonix local set off driving to Europe’s most Easterly region, Slovenia to begin a journey back climbing every Alpine country high point en route; The Alpine 7
Slovenia - Triglav, 2864m (PD)
Austria - Grossglockner, 3978m (PD)
Germany - Zugspitze, 2962m (Grade II+)
Liechtenstein - Vorder Grauspitz, 2599m (Class 4 ridge)
Switzerland - Dufourspitze, 4634m (PD+)
Italy & France - Monte Bianco or Mont Blanc, 4810m (PD)
These mountains aren’t incredibly technical on paper, however with potentially changeable weather conditions and some long approaches, would it be possible to ascend these six mountains in 7 countries and drive the 1000km between them, all in just one week? Up for giving it our best shot, we grabbed our kit and jumped in the car to head to Slovenia to find out.
Area: Expedition abroad: Alpine countries of Western Europe
Type: Challenge - one week
Distance: 10,000m+ ascent
Duration: 7 days of 10-16 hours per day
Route: Grid refs and location google maps
Time of year: July
Logistical recommendations: We primarily used Summitpost trip reports given how popular many of these routes are.
Triglav, 2864m (PD)
Arriving into Slovenia in perfect sunshine, we were really taken back by its picture-postcard beauty. Every direction showed rugged grey mountains standing tall out of rich Alpine meadows, as good as what we’d seen on Instagram or better. We grabbed a big lunch in the quiet village of Trenta at around 600m and began our 1500m ascent to the refuge, Koča na Doliču. The hanging valleys eventually came to an end and the winding path takes you up onto steeper, rockier terrain always surprising you with the next zigzag turn.
Calling on the drive over, we were kindly assured that although the refuge is full, they’d happily have us sleep in the communal area. Of course, we weren’t fussy, or in a position to be, and they delivered on their promise, providing us a hearty dinner and a mattress in the main room. The guys are incredibly friendly here, and given the number of moving parts on this expedition, we were extremely grateful for their hospitality. Already, we were glad to be out of the French Alps, where the refugees aren’t necessarily known for their amenability.
With a reasonable night's sleep, we were buzzing to get cracking and the 4.45am alarm doesn’t shake our enthusiasm. Looking up to the freshly covered snow-capped summit in the cold morning air, we’re reminded we’re heading onto a serious mountain environment despite the relatively modest summit height and our arguably bold choice to wear running shorts.
Confidently but carefully negotiating some of the slippery technical ground, aided with some fixed lines and make good time to the Summit w