15 Great Mountain Vacations

The U.K. based online magazine Wide World launched at the beginning of May, and is already building a library of good content for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. The articles vary greatly in subject matter and include an interview with free diver Sara Campbell, a look at the world’s toughest race, and a growing collection of gear reviews.

One of the feature articles is of particular interest for travelers, offering up 15 amazing mountain trips from around the globe that will give you something to do at altitude even in the summer. Some of the locations on the list are amongst the most famous mountaineering communities in the world, each well known for offering a range of outdoor adventure activities.

For instance, Chamonix, France appears on the list, and during the winter, the famous mountain town is filled with visitors looking to take advantage of the best skiing and climbing in Europe. But during the summer months, those crowds vanish, leaving one of the world’s best outdoor playground virtually deserted. Sitting at the base of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, Chamonix gives easy access to some of the best alpine hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking found anywhere.

The other locations on the list are just as impressive, and each offers its own unique mountain activities. Some are great paragliding destinations, others offer horseback riding, rafting, fly fishing, and more. Most of the locations are in Europe and North America, with Queenstown, New Zealand being the lone exception. Any one of these mountain escapes would make a great getaway for anyone still looking for summertime fun.

Classic Treks: The Haute Route

There is a misconception that all of the great treks of the world involve backpackers roughing it in remote backcountry in a distant third world country. While those treks do hold a certain appeal, there are plenty of other great hikes that don’t require that you give up all of your amenities, and rough it, just so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Take the Haute Route for example. The 110-mile trek runs along a variety of routes from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland and generally takes about 12 days to complete. The route runs through some of the most scenic sections of the Alps, beginning in the shadow of Mount Blanc and ending under the Matterhorn, quite possibly the two most famous mountains in all of Europe.

While the Haute Route, which is also known as “the High Route” or “the Mountaineers Route”, is non-technical, it can still be physically demanding. The easy to follow trail climbs through 11 high passes, but reachs heights of nearly 12,500 feet in the process, and even during the summer, the use of crampons and ice axes may be necessary.

While this may seem daunting, and at times it can be, trekkers can look forward to staying in excellent mountain huts at the end of each day. The comfortable huts are found along the trail at intervals equivalent to a day’s hike. When the travelers arrive, they can kick off their boots, gather round the fire and partake in some of the surprisingly good food and local wines before retiring to a warm, comfortable bed for the night.

The Haute Route is often described as “the most beautiful walk in Europe” and that reputation is well founded. It passes through lush meadows and around brilliant glaciers stretching down some of the most impressive peaks in Europe. The trail even finds its way in and out of sleppy little mountain villages, giving trekkers the opportunity to experience Europe from a different perspective, far from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities.

During the summer months, the Haute Route is a popular destination for backpackers, but that doesn’t mean it closes down in the winter. The route is open for cross country skiers, who cover its length in roughly five days, enjoying the same scenery, and staying in the same mountain huts along the way.

No matter if you go in the summer or winter, you can expect a great outdoor adventure, with stunning scenery, and wonderful accomidations at the end of the day. You’ll challenge yourself physically but be rewarded with fine meals and comfortable beds for your efforts, and you’ll get to see parts of Europe that most only dream of.

Matterhorn Panos

My interest in panoramic photos never ebbs, and I am always on the lookout for
new work being done. This morning I came across a site featuring a very beautiful series of panoramic pictures from
the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
There are actually many more panos here than those of the Matterhorn, but those are
the most impressive of the bunch.