Last year, I took on a new project with German publisher gestalten called Wanderlust Europe. This was a coffee-table book bringing together a selection of Europe’s most exciting long-distance trails, and it proved quite popular. The format and the publication process were both new to me; it was a deep collaboration with a team at the publisher, and we also took a number of photographers on board to provide images for the layouts.
In January this year, I took a phone call from Robert Klanten, founder of gestalten. He wanted to talk to me about a new project – at once very much a Wanderlust title and also something new. Building on the success of Wanderlust Europe, his idea was to go deeper into the Alps: arguably the area where much of Europe’s finest mountain walking is to be found. He wanted me to once again research and write the copy for this book. Given my long love affair with both mountaineering and multi-day hiking in the Alps, I said yes at once. The result is Wanderlust Alps, published this week.
The process once again involved a large amount of research. I want to be upfront about the fact that I have not, of course, personally hiked every single trail included in the book – there’s a lifetime of exploration here, and I’m a young man still! However, I’ve had a big team behind me assisting with the research and fact-checking, and my own research has been as thorough and diligent as I could make it (my study is now bristling with guidebooks). It helps, too, that this is a relatively high-level book focused on inspiration and helping to guide readers towards more detailed information; it is not a detailed blow-by-blow guidebook to actually hiking the trails. Of course, the fact that I am an experienced Alpine walker has been critical. I know a decent amount about both hiking in the Alps and the region’s cultural and natural history, and I hope that this comes through in the pages.
We have tried to include a good range of routes: from the popular to the obscure, from the easy to the very technical, short to very long. I’m sure that there will be several routes included that even experienced Alpine walkers won’t be familiar with. As such, I believe that the book has a broad appeal – although it is really aimed at the non-expert who is curious about long-distance walking in the Alps. Although we’ve included some day hikes, most of the routes are hut treks. I’m particularly pleased that I was able to include some personal favourites, including Zermatt’s Hohtälligrat (an underrated gem) and the ascent of Sasseneire.
Once more, the photography is the soul of the book. A number of my own photographs feature, but we have included work by a wide range of talented photographers, including several I’ve worked with before.
Last year, when introducing Wanderlust Europe, I wrote this:
In some respects this now feels like a book from our old reality, when global travel was easier and our horizons larger. But it’s important to dream, isn’t it? And those mountains aren’t going anywhere.
I think that this is still true, although Wanderlust Alps hits the shelves at a more optimistic time regarding European travel. Challenges remain, but I am hopeful that by summer 2022 most of the problems caused by the pandemic will be behind us. Writing Wanderlust Alps has inspired me to get back to the Alps, and I want to spend a good chunk of next summer wandering across the range. I hope it inspires you to explore these wonderful mountains too.
Here is the complete list of hikes featured in Wanderlust Alps. Note that the chapter divisions are somewhat artificial; there is plenty of overlap between the regions of the Western Alps and the Swiss Alps, for example. Ultimately the team settled on this arrangement.
- Traverse of the Vercors
- GR5 Alpine Traverse
- La Grande Cabane
- Tour of the Écrins (GR54)
- Refuge du Carro
- Mont Chaberton and Fort du Chaberton
- Tour of the Aiguilles Rouges
- Refuge Albert Premier from Col de Balme
- Crête du Mont Macaron
- Col d’Aussois and Pointe de l’Observatoire
- Grand Balcon and Signal Forbes
- Jura Crest Trail
- Tour du Saint-Bernard
- Hohtälligrat and Stockhorn
- Tour of the Matterhorn
- Tour of the Bernina
- Tour of the Jungfrau Region
- Rätikon Höhenweg
- Lac Bleu
- Bel Oiseau
- Schönbiel Hut Trail
- Gsponer Höhenweg to Weissmies Hut
- Le Grammont
- Schladminger Tauern Höhenweg
- Lasörling-Venediger Höhenweg
- Lünersee Circuit Trail and Gafalljoch
- Stubai High Trail
- Carnic Peace Trail
- Pinzgauer Spaziergang
- Grande Traversata delle Alpi (GTA)
- Rifugio Tosa e T. Pedrotti Hike
- Vajolet Towers
- Seceda Ridge
- Dolomites Alta Via 2
- Dolomites Alta Via 4
- Adolf Munkel Trail
- Gran Paradiso Alta Via 2
- Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee
- Koroška Mountain Trail
- Juliana Trail
- Via Dinarica White Trail
- Stol (Hochstuhl)
- Velika Planina
- Begunje Shepherd’s Trail
Hiking Across the Alps
By gestalten and Alex Roddie
Published 23 September 2021
Stretching from France all the way down to Slovenia, Europe’s most majestic mountain range encompasses eight countries. Wanderlust Alps charts the region’s most treasured routes and guides the reader every step of the way. Aimed at those with an appetite for adventure, this book offers a rich mix of treks for hikers who wish to brave the elements.
Through enlightening maps, first-hand tips, and breathtaking photography, Wanderlust Alps illustrates why the range’s craggy peaks and verdant plains make it an outdoor playground in any season. Expect dazzling content to inspire hikers of any experience and skill level, stunning landscape photography, and helpful hints and information on how best to enjoy more than 50 epic trails.