THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING. TIPS AND IDEAS FOR YOUR NEXT MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE
Ever since Felix Bähr can remember, he has climbed in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and been out in the snow. His innate thirst for adventure has led the 30-year-old from Dresden to numerous ambitious projects and culminated in climbing the 1000 m high Salathe Wall on El Capitan (Yosemite, California) in just three days. His heart belongs to the mountains – no matter what time of year. While he spends the summer exploring new climbing routes, highlining or undertaking alpine climbing trips in the Dolomites, the colder months make him pursue winter ascents and go skiing. Working at DIAMIR Adventure Travels, he turned his hobby into a job.
As an experienced mountaineer, Felix has a couple of tips and ideas that could be useful for your next mountain adventure.
Inspiration for the tour - look around, listen, make it happen!
I have a list where I keep writing down goals. Sometimes the ideas for these goals originate in other people’s stories, sometimes in a documentary on TV. However, sometimes it may also be just a picture that impresses me. The next thing is that I ask myself what I actually want from my tour: Is it primarily about fun or more about physical performance? Am I looking for an entertaining adventure or a personal challenge?
This decision influences the layout of the tour. If it’s about fun, I look, for example, for a ski touring area where the lift takes me far up. In this case, the way to the summit is not too far, but long descents await me. If I want to challenge myself physically, I do all of the strenuous but free of danger parts, so that I can concentrate fully on climbing. Then I set myself small competitions as a goal and try, for example, to reach as many climbing meters as possible in one day or to cross the Watzmann in one day. On the other hand, if it’s about a personal challenge and testing limits, I invest significantly more time in the project: assessing dangers, planning logistics, calculating risks and getting ready for the unknown. Climbing in Saxon Switzerland, alpine multi-pitch routes, winter ascents – that is a real break from everyday life and everything else. It is a lot of fun to focus only on one thing and to make intensive preparations.
The right inspiration can be found everywhere on social media. But the analog world also has a lot to offer: magazines like “Panorama”, published by the German Alpine Club, and “klettern” (climbing) are a good source for new goals. I also like illustrated books, such as those by Frank Richter about Saxon Switzerland. There you always discover new routes that look promising. Also good for new inspiration: drinking beer with like-minded people. When talking about climbing and mountains, the ideas come all by themselves.
The optimal preparation - research, knowledge, skills
Basically, you should always look for the right time for your endeavor, a time where there is no stress or any obligation so that you can fully concentrate on it. The weather also plays a fundamental role in the success of a tour. Therefore, you should observe the weather situation in advance for a certain period of time. I like using weather apps for this purpose.
There's nothing like good research: tour descriptions, GPS data, photos and videos - the more you know about the tour, the more secure you feel. Don't worry: too much information in advance won’t spoil your anticipation of the adventure. The views and experience on site are completely different because they are personal. In addition, you should carefully examine your equipment. What is possible? What are the limits? One of my favorite products is the MegaJul belay device from Edelrid. An all-rounder that combines many other belay devices. It is therefore all the more important to master the exact handling of this device.
Regardless of where you are going, you should again and again internalize some basics: safe climbing, first aid, companion rescue, rope and safety techniques. I learned all this as a young climber and today I teach it to children myself. These are fundamentals that every mountaineers should know.
The biggest challenge when it comes to mountain tours is ...
... the question: What am I and what is my group capable of doing? This question is of particular importance when you want to experience something that is supposed to be as challenging as possible.
This goes together with the question: Who is the best partner for the project? However, not only performance but also fun should play a role on a mountain tour. Yet, the most fun-person may not necessarily be the most suitable person. Therefore, you should look for a compromise here: What is my goal and what skills does the other one have so that we are both happy in the end with what we have achieved.
The second challenge follows on site: the height. There are times when you tolerate it well, and times when you tolerate it not so well. If you want to cover as many meters as possible in a short time, you have to assess yourself and your skills well and should not overdo it.
I pack my backpack and take with me ...
... preferably not too much, but the most necessary. Always with me: water, an Opinel knife, a small first aid kit and a water-resistant jacket. When it comes to functional wear in particular, you should focus on clothes that can be used in different weather situations. You also want to take equipment with you that is versatile. This way you save space and weight because you need less equipment. What I always have with me is my GARMIN Fenix multifunction watch. It helps me when I train and is a great companion on tours: I always know my exact location, what I have already managed, how much still lies ahead of me and how much progress I’m making. Later, after the tour, it helps me to analyze everything and thus learn more about myself and my skills. An additional tip: binoculars. Often underestimated, but very useful and a lot of fun.
There are plenty of packing lists on the Internet. For example, those from the German Alpine Club are very good (see below).
My insider tip for a mountain tour
A tip from home: the “Erzgebirgskamm” (Engl. Ore Mountains Ridge) by mountain bike or cross-country ski. The beautiful Elbe valley with its unique rock formations is the finish. The tour can be accomplished as a one-day or a three-day tour.
The one-day tour, the so-called “High Tour”, starts in Zinnwald. The three-day “Schö-Schö-Tour” is from Schöneck to Schöna. The route is mostly on the Czech side and offers wonderful landscapes, an interesting and diverse terrain, good cross-country trails (everything is possible from wide roads to single trails) and – not forgetting – the good Czech pub culture.
A tip for those who are looking for something bigger: If you are technically adept and the conditions on site are suitable, then the “Jubiläumsgrat” (Engl. “Jubilee Arête”) is a world-class tour in winter (and certainly an absolute recommendation for the summer too). The ridge runs from the Zugspitze to the Alpspitze. The 8 km long route is very exposed and only partially secured. We, two people, did the tour in January in two days. On the way we stayed in the bivouac box. A serious but at the same time also incredibly diverse undertaking. Exciting and beautiful. We had powder on the north side and wet snow on the south side. Sun during the day, starry sky at night. Matchless.
By the way: A look at Felix's website is worthwhile. Here he shares his adventures in pictures, words and videos: felix-baehr.de
And if you would like to take part in a planned mountain tour or expedition with like-minded people, then take a look at DIAMIR adventure travels, a Dresden-based company founded by mountaineers: diamir.de
Useful for ski tours: almenrausch.at, snowsafe-App
Useful when traveling: ioverlander
Packing list: DAV München & Oberland