The Frozen Volume from Another Escape explores the raw, fragile and compelling landscapes of our polar and mountainous wildernesses. It includes stories about thrilling outdoor pursuits, from Nordic skating on the vast and numerous lakes of Sweden, to dogsledding across frozen fjords and into wild snow-cloaked mountains, to braving the cold, paddling out and surfing in arctic waters.
It features one man’s adventure to collect the world’s most comprehensive collection of snowshoes and his attempt to preserve the dying art of traditional snowshoe making; and one woman’s commitment to enduring the seasons and tending a weather station in the remote wilds of Iceland.
It learns lessons in glaciology, discusses our complex relationship with our planet’s changing climate, and uncovers the plight of equatorial glaciers. This volume’s travel section ventures to the frigid coast of Greenland, a landmass dominated by ice and home to a culture founded on spirituality and traditional technologies.
It’s been exactly two years since the last time I was in South Tyrol. That hiking trip I kept postponing was long past due. Here at last, I was immediately overwhelmed by the breath-taking landscape, the glorious autumnal colours and atmosphere, and the irresistible Italian charm of the region. And I ask myself, why did I wait so long?
After the last trip, I knew that I definitely wanted to return, and soon!, so I was even more chuffed to receive an invitation from Gore-Tex to the 10-year anniversary celebrations of their International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen, Italy.
The IMS festival is the ultimate encapsulation of their pledge “Meet.Mountain.People.Soul.” and, simply put, was about everything to do with the topic of mountaineering, and included seminars, discussions, masterclasses, hikes and workshops. Visitors were presented with a full program over two days, with speakers from the various different fields on hand daily at the Forum Brixen and out on the mountain, sharing their knowledge and experience.
My introduction to IMS turned out to be a both entertaining and exciting evening. Gela Allmann, a professional sportsperson and model, gave a gripping talk about her 800m fall in Iceland, and how she overcame her injuries and the pessimistic prognoses from her doctors, to begin from nothing, not only learning to walk again, but rediscovering her self-confidence after such a tragedy. With her motto “Fight-Smile-Love”, her talk was not only extremely uplifting and a positive energy boost, but also a touching love letter to life and everything we can achieve if we have the willpower.
So I was fully energised going into the next presentation by Robert Jasper, an extreme climber with a difference. Robert told us about how he discovered his passion for climbing as a young boy accompanied by some very funny photos from his archive, before presenting a montage of his latest expedition, to Greenland in Summer 2018, where he undertook a first ascent, alone, over 28 days. And as if that wasn’t dangerous or adventurous enough, he also kayaked to what was to be his basecamp, with 90kg of equipment, also alone, of course. And he photographed and filmed the whole journey himself, which only upped the already immense time and effort. Unbelievable, what a single person can achieve.
I was lucky enough to be in the same hotel as Robert, and ambushed him at breakfast the next day with detailed questions about his trip. An absolutely fascinating, sincere and down-to-earth guy, who has left a deep and lasting impression on me.
On the following day was the event that I had been secretly looking forward to the most: the IMS Walk Day. On the program was a hike to Latzfonser Kreuz with views of the Kassianspitz (2 581m) with mountain climber Tamara Lunger, alpinist Beat Kammerlander and Robert Jasper. A good opportunity to get my rusty joints moving again and also test some Gore-Tex products, specifically hiking boots and a rain jacket. Luckily, it didn’t rain that day, and I could “only” test the jacket’s excellent wind protection and breathability at 2 300m altitude. Instead, the day shone in its full autumnal splendour and the views of the Dolomites was reward aplenty for the effort of the climb.
Tamara, Beat and Robert held question-and-answers at various point along the route, and the time pass quickly. The day, which was also the last of the trip, also offered good opportunities to get to know our fellow hikers.
Exhausted but also ecstatic, we returned to Brixen for the final night of the IMS. The very likeable Tamara Lunger, who I was lucky enough to have met during the day’s hike, opened the evening program with an interview and presented a slide show of pictures from the highs and lows of her alpine career. Very impressive that one can talk so freely not only about one’s achievements, but also one’s defeats, failed expeditions and aborted summit climbs. I realised then, maybe it’s a sign of a great sportsperson, having a healthy relationship with one’s own failures.
The following day, I couldn’t deny a certain melancholy on the return journey. Luckily, on the train, I could enjoy the beautiful South Tyrol landscape just a little longer. I’m taking home with me not only the wonderful impressions of the landscape, but also the many small encouragements that I took from the talks and presentations. Believe in yourself and your strengths and anything is possible.
With this optimism I leave, with a heavy heart, the most fascinating region of the Alps, and resolve not to let so much time pass again before my next visit. South Tyrol, be seeing you!
To coincide with the release of their new SS18 Outdoor Collection, the Swedish brand Peak Performance invites us to a Hiking Experience in Garmisch Partenkirchen. The location is no accident. The collection release was accompanied by the launch of an impressive outdoor film from the ‘This is Peak Performance’ series, which was filmed near Garmisch, and demonstrated again how well the brand harmonises an urban look with high performance properties. Though the SS18 Outdoor Collection was designed for use in nature, it can just as well be combined with sneakers for city wear. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Peak Performance Hiking Experience started at Gore in Feldkirchen, southeast from Munich. A key piece of the Peak Performance Outdoor Collection is the Mondo Jacket, made from Gore-Tex® C-knit material, so it made sense to take a closer look at this miracle material in the Gore-Tex laboratories. In the labs, all fabrics and materials are put thoroughly through their paces before moving to production. Durability, consistency of colour and shape, as well as the specific characteristics of the material (such as water-repellency, breathability, wind protection), are tested again and again until the Gore-Tex team give their final okay for production.
Before my visit to the labs, I had no idea just how high the standards were that Gore-Tex demands of all their partners. Seeing as Gore-Tex offer a life-long guarantee on all their products, even when they are not the actual manufacturer of the product itself, just the material, requiring the highest of standards makes absolute sense. Only in this way can they ensure only premium products display the Gore-Tex seal.
A highlight of the visit was the Rain Tower, a 6-metre high tower for simulating actual rainy weather. Luckily, it was only a brief stop for us; mannequins wearing the test products have to spend many hours inside.
Then it was time to continue towards the mountains. On the horizon we could already see panorama outline of the Alps, and for me, as someone who lives far away from any such mountains, just the sight sends my heart racing and wakes my lust for adventure.
Our hotel was situated above the Partnach Gorge (unfortunately closed for maintenance works) and offered a superlative view of the snow covered Karwendel mountains, rising out of the clouds.
I still remember when I was young, spending my autumn holidays each year in Switzerland. Setting out early each day on the day’s hike and returning after dark, singing hiking songs along the way. I remember creeks which we could drink from, picnics with Swiss chocolate, and that satisfying feeling of taking off my hiking boots at the end of a long day. It was these holidays that deepened my love of nature and awakened my passion for the great outdoors.
We started early on the first hiking day. The weather report had forecast rain, confirmed by a quick look out the window. Secretly I had been hoping for bad weather, the best conditions to really test the properties of functional clothing like the Mondo Jacket. Additionally, I was wearing the Helium Hybrid Liner as insulating layer and the Track Tights. To be honest, it was an unusual feeling setting out on a hike in close-fitting pants. But the cut of the Track Tights ensured minimal rubbing and felt really comfortable. Plus they protected me from splashing water. Test passed!
With many styles from the new collection, great emphasis has been placed on sustainability–the collection is almost completely PFC-free and in addition Peak Performance supports the RDS (Responsible Down Standard) requirements. Besides, the company uses consistently recycled polyester and organic cotton.
After a short detour across a bridge over the Partnach Gorge, we headed up the 1237m high Eckbauer mountain. A great hike for my rusty limbs: it’s been quite a while since the last time I took in the mountain air. From there it was down to the Olympic ski jump, then back up to the hotel, all in all a wonderful hike rounded off with a Functional Flow Yoga session back at the hotel.
On the second, and unfortunately already last day, we looped around to St Martinshütte on Grasberg on the northern side of Garmisch. Under a cloudless sky with the stunning sunshine, it couldn’t have been more different to the rainy day before, and spring was in the air. Still there was a lot of snow on the more remote paths that we were able to take thanks to our experienced mountain guides. For us, who were unfamiliar with the terrain, these areas were not without danger. Lucky for us, our guides had planned for everything including some abseiling action and climbing rope to get us safely down some steep and loose slopes. It was great fun and also a small adrenalin kick, and a further opportunity to test the functionality of the clothing.
I could still feel the workout from yesterday’s hike in my muscles, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every metre of this hike, and the views over the valley were breath-taking. The fresh mountain air and the friendly conversations with my companions on the Hiking Experience only added to our enjoyment, and it all made the sparkling blackcurrant juice at St Martinshütte twice as satisfying and a deserved reward for our physical exertions.
On the way back to Berlin, looking across the passing mountains, I suddenly fell into a heavy melancholy. The time in Bavaria with Peak Performance had been too good. I could have easily stayed another week, gone on more hikes. I had met people who I hope to stay in touch with, and Garmisch itself was not lacking in charm, despite its popularity with tourists. I comforted myself with the thought that I will be back. And why not? Hiking season just started! Right now, staring out my office window at the grey city, I can think of nothing better.