The supreme discipline
High mountain area tours are the supreme discipline of mountaineering and one of the greatest experiences Alpinism has to offer. For these tours, mountaineers need to be skilled, experienced and ambitious and they need stamina. High mountain tours are the ultimate mountaineering experience, challenging and enchanting Alpinists. Numerous great mountaineers in over 200 years of Alpinism have stated one and the same thing: For a real high mountain area tour, you need to know everything, you need all the skills, and the knowledge when and how to use them. In 1492, when Columbus reached America by ship, Mount Aiguille (France) was first climbed. The first ascent to the Großvenediger (Austria) was in 1841. Twenty years later, Mont Blanc (French-Italian border) was conquered for the first time. In 1878, the Biancograt tour onto the Piz Bernina (Switzerland) was accomplished for the first time. All these tours were impressive accomplishments at the time and presaged today's fascination with and popularity of Alpinism.
The main ridge of the Eastern Alps, where the granite of the Western Alps isn't far, offers numerous opportunities for great high mountain area tours on different levels of difficulty. Tours of all lengths, some moderately, others seriously demanding can be found. We can spend half a lifetime exploring the Alps and other European mountains before we need to travel to other continents in search for greater challenges. High mountain area tours are clearly demanding. Mountaineers need stamina and a strong will. The bunch of equipment already hints at the variety of tasks and challenges such a tour poses. The way to the top is long and difficult, and leads over rock, snow and ice. In the end, however, when exhausted mountaineers finally reach the summit, their efforts pay off in multiple ways. Nothing compares to the pride and satisfaction that come with such a conquest. When all your senses are finally alert and you feel wide awake, you will forget how early you got up and how hard the way up was.
Bergell and Monte Rosa multi-day tours
Combining high mountain area tours to a multi-day tour can make for an unforgettable mountaineering holiday and a great sport challenge. It also makes sense - once you are up in the mountains, once you have reached a particular mountain shelter, why not continue your tour from there? Once you've climbed one peak, why not aim for a second, neighbouring summit? Some areas lend themselves beautifully for combined tours, offering multiple rewarding tours which can easily be linked and combined to form an incomparable multi-day mountaineering adventure. My current favourite areas for multi-day tours are the Bergell (Switzerland) and the Monte Rosa (Swiss-Italian border) area.