The end of my big Bikepacking Europe Tour through 44 countries is now 8 months ago. 8 months that were filled with numerous small and medium-sized adventures, most of them more or less right on my doorstep. For me, it feels like I have moved on in life on many levels and taken a big step forward during this time. And in particular I have the feeling that I was able to slowly process a large part of the impressions of the Bikepacking Europe Tour. And so I was more than ready to throw myself into the unknown once again for a few days, to set off on a gravel bike, discover new places, experience adventures, meet people, sleep outside and simply have a good time.
So on the Thursday before Easter, I set off for Italy, Corsica, Sardinia and then wanted to return via the south of France just under two weeks later. There's not really too much to say at this point, it just felt right. And somehow many feelings, emotions and memories from last year came back.
The set-up was similar, after all it doesn't make much difference in terms of equipment whether you are on the road for 12 days or seven months. The luggage included a sleeping bag, a mat (no tent), mountain boots, micro crampons, ice axe and otherwise simply as much as necessary and as little as possible.
The first few days turned out to be a bit rough. On the first night I was woken up by the police somewhere on a lonely pass high above Genoa, on the second day it rained as badly as it had for a long time, and on the second night I spent the night completely soaked under a motorway bridge and was attacked by a fox. Still, there were some wonderful places and moments, Genoa, Portofino, Pisa, Florence and especially the sunset high above Cinqe Terre under pouring rain was absolutely special.
In Livorno, we took the ferry to Bastia in Corsica. And from then on it got really good. The following pictures were all taken within the first 24 hours on this incredibly diverse island. I think that speaks for itself... :)
As always, I didn't just want to cycle, but also to explore part of Corsica on foot. To stay true to my style, the highest mountain was the obvious choice. I started early in the morning in a valley where I was told that it was 200% impossible to reach Monte Cinto (2706m.a.s.l.) from there, especially not in one day. Well, 17 hours, 41km and 3200m of altitude difference later I was back. The landscape along the GR20 trail was gorgeous, but the conditions at the higher altitudes were rather complicated. Shortly before the summit, I turned around twice because it was just too tricky for me with my equipment. Steep snow walls, frozen as hard as a rock. Finally - and at this point I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't have the courage to simply abort - I found a route that allowed me to reach the summit. All in all, a dream day, at times relatively far outside my comfort zone, but one that I won't forget anytime sonn...
At this time of year, there is hardly anything going on in Corsica, especially on the west coast. Lonely roads, high cliffs, fantastic beaches, reasonably good weather, sea, mountains, simply a dream. I drove along the entire west coast to Bonifacio in the very south of the island. However, due to a storm and a lot of wind, there were no ferries to Sardinia at exactly the wrong time. Since I was running out of time anyway, I had to spontaneously change my plans. So I drove along the rather boring east coast back north and took the ferry to Nice in Bastia. Theoretically, I would have had another day and a half from there to get back to the ETH in time. In the end, however, I took a little more time to explore the beautiful Côte d'Azur. I returned to Italy via Monaco and finally returned to Switzerland via Genoa and Milan.
I was on the road for 12 days, covered a little more than 2000km and 17'000 metres of altitude, spent every single night outside and unfortunately didn't shower once... :) The purpose of this short trip was not to set any new records, seek extremes or produce incredible content. At this point, I also questioned quite strongly whether it made sense to reel off my European trip at such a fast pace. In the end, it's hard to say whether it was "right" or "wrong", but it's clear that I made many mistakes, without which I would never be anywhere near where I am now. On various levels. And I think that is the most important thing in life: That you realise that you are responsible for achieving your own dreams and goals, and especially that it is worth doing things that you are not sure will turn out well. Just try it out, leave your comfort zone and realise that it's absolutely okay to make mistakes. This Italy-Corsica-Southern France round was a trip for me to enjoy, all to myself. Spending a few days outside again, exploring new places, making mistakes and learning from them and just having a good time. And it was fantastic! :)
Winter is slowly coming to an end. So it's the ideal time to look back on a few highlights. With a study phase, exams and a trip to Morocco, there wasn't much left of the winter, but there was still room for a few adventures. Instead of highlighting every single cool day, I'd rather just share a few pictures here. They are from Rigi, Pilatus, Buochserhorn, Titlis, Ticino, various ski tours in Central Switzerland and Valais and - one of my highlights - the spontaneous Saturday ride to Milano... :)
The fact that I have vacations at all in winter is associated with quite a lot of luck at ETH. Therefore, I wanted to use these two weeks as intensively as possible, get to know new places and cultures and simply have a good time.
It was really beneficial, we saw magnificent landscapes, traditional villages, got lost in the winding alleys, drifted on the hectic markets, rode on camels through the Sahara, spent the night in the desert in a tent, were constantly invited to traditional tea, ate daily couscous and bread, drank gallons of fresh orange juice and my personal highlight was definitely the ascent of the highest mountain of Morocco (Jbel Toubkal, 4167m. ü.M) in the heart of the Atlas Mountains.
Morocco is a worthwhile destination on many levels, the time there was intense and beautiful. Now I am back home and working on the next cool projects besides my ETH studies. So I'll keep it nice and short at this point and just share some more pictures instead! :)
3 hours after my last exam I was already on the train on my way to London. The need to leave Switzerland again was huge, but after all, it also feels like an eternity when you are in the same place for half a year, while you have previously traveled through 44 countries in 7 months.
The days are shorter again, so that I have to hurry if I want to be on a mountain peak in time for sunset after the lectures at ETH. But for the sunrise tours I can almost sleep in...
At the moment I'm not only busy studying and climbing mountains, but I'm also preparing for my lecture series with events at various locations. It will be about adventure stories, insights, encounters, modern error culture, borderline experiences, thoughts and much more. And there might be a little bit of humor as well. You can find all the info on the home page! :)
Exactly one year has passed since the day of the great departure. A departure into the unknown, on a journey that was more intense than I could have ever imagined. A journey that took me 36,000 kilometers through 44 countries with their capitals and highest mountains, past seas, beaches, lakes, national parks, villages and giant metropoles, different cultures and even more different people. And exactly three months ago I returned with a backpack full of adventures, encounters, emotions, thoughts and insights.
Instead of putting all my adventures, stories, insights and messages together again in a long blog-post, I'd rather share them with you at a multimedia-show. The first date is fixed:
January 12, 2023, 19:30 at the Veloplus branch in Emmenbrücke. Free entry (door collection) followed by an aperitif. More information, as well as additional lecture dates will follow soon via newsletter and on this website.
The three months since my return have also been filled with adventures and new beginnings. I have started my studies in Health Sciences and Technology at the ETH in Zurich, and if you think I will be able to just sit there and listen quietly, you are mistaken. The following pictures were all taken in the last couple of weeks, I'll just leave it at that....
I am looking forward to welcoming you at one of my lectures!
204 days, 36'000 kilometers, half a million meters of altitude, 44 countries, 44 capitals, 43 highest mountains, numerous lakes, seas, national parks, forests, encounters and simply unimaginable (and this is really meant seriously - I think it is not possible to imagine the whole thing) many experiences, adventures, encounters and emotions.
This project was the hardest, most exhausting, most beautiful, most enriching and most profitable thing I have done in my life (so far) and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my "Friends", sponsors, family, actually just everyone who supported me here in any way. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
I will need a few more days, weeks, maybe months to process everything that has happened in the last few months, but there will definitely be a more detailed blog post and in the longer term a series of presentations... Cheers! :)
I really wanted to finish this project on Mont Blanc. But the current conditions simply do not allow this at the moment. The mountain is officially closed, who wants to go up, pays 15'000 Euro deposit, which you get back when you are back down, in the not so unlikely case that this never happens again, you have already pre-financed your rescue, respectively funeral...
On the one hand, I'm sad and disappointed that I've come so far and now only the last piece of a gigantic puzzle is missing, so to speak. On the other hand, I am happy, relieved, and grateful, maybe even a little amazed, that I have come this far at all. One doesn't even want to imagine what could have happened during all that time out there on the road, in the cities, in the mountains, or wherever....
I decided to climb the Gran Paradiso - with 4061m.a.s.l. the highest mountain, which is completely in Italy - and I will do the Mont Blanc when the conditions allow it again - probably in September as a 3 day tour from Lucerne.
The Gran Paradiso I trusted myself alone, after all, the glacier is bare and snowfree so that you can see the crevasses well and the climbing difficulties are also absolutely within limits.
The feeling of standing all alone on the 46th national peak within a few months is indescribable! And I'm sure that it will work out with the Mont Blanc soon and then I can complete this project properly...
Slowly but surely my trip through all 47 countries of Europe is coming to an end. In the last few days and weeks I was somewhere in the highest mountains of the alpine countries and it feels more and more like home. For me, the Alps are a place where I feel safe again, I'm not afraid of wild animals - especially dogs - anymore, the tap water is drinkable again and I can effortlessly communicate with people again.
I would like to continue this blog post where the last one left off, namely in Croatia. But because it is very intense for me at the moment not only physically but also mentally and I hardly have time to process all the impressions, I would like to share here once again a little more pictures instead of text:
In November, a young man - Charles was his name - ran after me in Porto (Portugal) to ask me why I was traveling with ice axes. Then, in March, he invited me to his home in Paris and showed me around the city. Then he left by bike himself, recently slept in my bed in Switzerland, and then we met again in Split. I was on the road together with him for two days and it was just fantastic! Croatia has just sooo much more to offer than the incredibly touristy coastal region!
Slovenia was the very last country that was still missing for me. Ljubliana the last capital. From then on, it was all about the highest mountains of the Alpine countries! Triglav Nationalpark is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the alps!
The weather at the Grossglockner did not look really good. Quite spontaneously Andreas "Rambo" Ropin has agreed to go up there together. He used to be an alcoholic, gambling addict and chain smoker, but quit this lifestyle 15 years ago and is now an extreme athlete and ultra-trailrunner. In the end we had a fantastic day despite not too summery weather!
There is not much to say. The Zugspitze is scenically a beautiful mountain, just has far too many people there. And if the very first thing you see on the summit is an elderly gentleman in a walker, then you feel rather like in the wrong movie... Actually wanted to be at sunrise on the summit, but could not start at night due to thunderstorms ... Was still beautiful.
Somehow life is just better, if you don't sleep more than 1 hour :) Especially if it is because of a beautiful sunrise stroll with Maximilian!
The feeling you get and the emotions you go through when you are back in the most beautiful country in Europe after about 35,500 kilometers through 47 countries in just under 200 days and can even call this country "home" is pretty indescribable. For me it went once across the whole country, over Oberalp Pass, Furka Pass to Zermatt and later through the whole Valais, over the big Saint Bernard to Italy.
2 years ago I wrote my Matura thesis under the title "Tour dör d'Schwiiz". Thereby I visited all 250 cities of Switzerland by bike and climbed the highest mountain in all 26 cantons. In doing so, I covered about 7'500km and 100'000 meters of altitude in 38 days. In any case, as part of this project, I have already been to the Durfourspitze - itself the highest point in Switzerland at 4634m.a.s.l.. In one day from Zermatt to the summit and back down again. But since I did not want to do the same tour again, I decided this time to climb the Dom - with 4546m.a.s.l. the highest mountain completely within Switzerland. Another excellent day, together with Martin Anthamatten. And after all the other things I've already done with Martin, it felt like a morning walk from Randa up the Dom. And we were back down in time for lunch.... :)
The last few weeks through the Balkans have been absolutely crazy! It started in Albania with a wild chase by 3 gigantic shepherd dogs with a bloody end, which almost meant the end of this trip. It continued in Albanian and Greek hospitals and with a few mechanical problems on the bike, but from then on it was actually only upwards.
The Balkans is scenically fantastic! Soooo many mountains, breathtaking roads on the Mediterranean coast, gorges, forests and lakes, just fantastic. And above all it has hardly any tourists! In addition, I saw many run-down villages, abandoned gas stations, vehicles that would already be in museums here, questionable road conditions, flourishing cities and much more. The people are mostly poor, but seem to be happy with the few things they have and are very warm and hospitable. I couldn't quite always identify the food, but it usually tasted good... :)
Since the countries here are relatively small, I came every few days to enjoy a mountain tour to country highlights through wild mountain landscapes.
Now I'm in Croatia, more or less back in civilization. With my "better half" I just spend a few quiet days on an island near Split. It was really funny - almost boring - to wake up twice in the same place. The last time this happened to me was in Stockholm about 25 countries ago. Now, when I stop for a moment, I realize only slowly how intense and eventful the last weeks and months have been and I suspect that it will take quite a while until I have really processed everything.
In any case, here I am preparing for the very last stage of this project, which will take me to the highest peaks of the Alpine countries (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtestein, Italy, France, Switzerland). Whether I will be able to complete this trip as planned in just under 3 weeks (early August) on Mont Blanc is not yet clear, as the conditions on the highest mountain in the Alps (or depending on your view of all of Europe) are quite catastrophic right now, but we'll see....
Until then, the best way to follow me for daily updates is on Instagram!
Adventurer and athlete, soon bikepacking through europe, climbing the highest mountain and visiting the most beautiful cities in every of the 47 countries!