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A guide to reaching the summit of every country in Europe - driving, walking and climbing routes to the tops of 50 countries in Europe. Detailed route descriptions, sketch maps - advice on transport, seasons, grading and gear. From afternoon strolls in Malta to three-day mountaineering ascents on classic Alpine routes such as Mont Blanc.
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Heading to the highest point of any European country is an experience not to be missed. Europe offers the hiker a wealth of adventure and a huge variety of dazzling scenery and each of our 50 countries celebrates its national high point in a different way. Now this unique guide brings together clear and detailed route descriptions of how to reach the summits of countries from Liechtenstein to Latvia, across the continent.
Whether you are attempting to climb a selection of individual high points or collect the set, you will find these routes lead you to some of the most striking landscapes and exciting terrain that Europe has to offer, with all the information you need about each country to get there – along with interesting but incidental information that you don’t!
Stretching from the frozen tundra of the Arctic Circle to the arid plains of the Sierra Nevada, this book contains something for everyone – from afternoon strolls in Malta and Moldova to three-day mountaineering ascents on classic Alpine routes such as Mont Blanc and Dufourspitze.
Don’t cross the Channel without it!
Since publication in 2009, the situation has vastly improved for those climbing Korab from Macedonia. The restrictions on climbing the mountain have been lifted as political tensions have eased in the area. It is now possible to climb the mountain at any time of year, although the mass ascent at the beginning of September is still popular.
The military and police presence in the area is now more low key and the guard dogs and razor wire at the Pobeda watchtower in Strezimir are thankfully long gone. It is still advisable to stop at the police checkpoint on the bumpy road up the Radika valley and report your presence and your plans if hiking without a guide.
Since publication a small tourist office has opened in Mavrovi Hanovi. Guides for the ascent can be arranged from here (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is still no decent map of the area. The old Soviet maps available to download on the internet are just as vague as the 1:70,000 map available at the tourist office. The route described in the guide is the 'normal' route shown in blue on this map: www.makpetrol.com.mk/planinari/Maps/GolemKorab.jpg
Route notes: The border town of ‘Durbar’ is more commonly ‘Debar’. After climbing the grassy slopes of Nistrovski Korab, the path traverses westwards across the south flanks of the Kepi Bard ridge, overlooking the large grassy area of Kobilino Pole (Mare's Field). There is some confusion about Mal Korab. The 2344m height attributed to this on the map should not be referred to as Mal Korab. Mal Korab (2683m) is a sizeable upthrust of limestone cliff at the head of the valley and is not visited on the walk, although it is in view ahead of you as you traverse under Kepi Bard. (Confusingly, Mal Korab also used to be known as Kepi Bard. This is not the same as the Kepi Bard under which the main path traverses!)
In spite of these access improvements, the Mavrovo area is still a truly adventurous destination. In addition to our comments about bears, we have also heard reports of wolves in the region.
There is no change in our advice to not attempt to summit from the Albanian side of the mountain.
It has also been suggested that while in the area, a great site is the Jovan Bigorski or John the Baptist monastery near Rotushe (www.bigorski.org.mk).
The Belarus high point seems to have seen an increase in visitor numbers (possibly in part due to Europe's High Points). It is now clearly signposted from the road and the area around the carved stone is now a landscaped garden. It is possible to reach the high point quite easily by bus from Minsk. This leaves 2-4 times a day to Volma/Волма, times available from http://ticketbus.by/ allowing 40 minutes to visit the high point before returning back by the same bus. Departure is from Southwestern (юго-западный) bus station or Krasnaya Gorka metro. After leaving Minsk, the bus takes the P65 towards Dzerzhinsk, then turns off right to Skirmantovo/Скирмантово. Get off at stop Скирмантово-1, which is located 3.5 km after a turn. You should request a stop when you see three poles next to a house on your right hand side. Alternatively get off at the next stop in Скирмантово village and walk back along the road until you see the sign for the high point.
The large red tower at Gaizinkalns was demolished in 2012. It was built to rival the white tower at Suur Munamagi in Estonia but was never completed. It was knocked down due to safety concerns (it was definitely in an unsafe dilapidated state when one of the authors climbed it in 2005!). The commemorative stone at the summit still remains.
Due to safety concerns, instability and previous terrorist attacks perpetrated in the Elbrus area it is essential to check with the FCO www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before making plans to travel to the region. The mountain was the scene of the high profile shooting of three tourists and bombing of a ski lift in 2011 which led to Russian forces carrying out air strikes in the area in the hunt for Islamic militants.
The cable car is now known as the Yastrebetz gondola.
A Norwegian campaign to give Finland a new highest point is gathering momentum. The Halti massif straddles the border between the two nations: Finland’s current highest point is a 1,324m subsidiary summit of a spur named Hálditšohkka, but the spur’s main 1,331m summit lies barely 40m to the north in Norway. A retired geophysicist and government surveyor, Bjørn Geirr Harsson, came up with the idea of giving the Norwegian summit to Finland as a ‘birthday gift’ to mark the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence from Russia in December next year. Since Mr Harsson first wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July 2015, the suggestion has been gaining support on social media and the Norwegian government is now considering the possibility of re-drawing the border.
A Eurovision for mountains
Why this Guide?
Using this Guide
The Geography of Europe
Plants and Wildlife
When To Go
How to Get There
Health and Safety Issues
What is Europe?
1 Andorra – Pic de Coma Pedrosa 2942m
2 Austria – Grossglockner 3798m
3 Belarus – Dzyarzhynskaya 345m
4 Belgium – Signal de Botrange 694m
5 Bosnia and Herzegovina – Maglic 2387m
6 Bulgaria – Musala 2925m
7 Croatia – Dinara 1831m
8 Cyprus – Mount Olympus (Chionistra) 1951m
9 Czech Republic – Snezka 1602m
10 Denmark – Møllehøj 170m
11 England – Scafell Pike 978m
12 Estonia – Suur Munamagi 318m
13 Finland – Halti 1325–28m
14 France and Italy – Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco 4808m
15 Germany – Zugspitze 2962m
16 Greece – Mount Olympus 2917m
17 Hungary – Kékes 1014m
18 Iceland – Hvannadalshnukur 2111m
19 Ireland – Carrauntoohil 1041m
20 Kosovo – Djeravica 2656m
21 Latvia – Gaizinkalns 312m
22 Liechtenstein – Grauspitz 2599m
23 Lithuania – Aukstojas/Juozapine Kalnas 294m
24 Luxembourg – Buurgplatz/Kneiff 559m
25 Macedonia and Albania – Mount Korab 2764m
26 Malta – Ta’ Dmejrek/Dingli Cliffs 253m
27 Moldova – Mount Balanesti 430m
28 Monaco – Chemin des Revoires 162m
29 Montenegro – Maja Kolata 2534m
30 The Netherlands – Vaalserberg 321m
31 Northern Ireland – Slieve Donard 852m
32 Norway – Galdhopiggen 2469m
33 Poland – Rysy 2500m/2503m
34 Portugal – La Torre 1993m
35 Romania – Moldoveanu 2544m
36 Russia – Mount Elbrus 5642m
37 San Marino – Monte Titano 739m
38 Scotland – Ben Nevis 1343m
39 Serbia – Midzor 2169m
40 Slovakia – Gerlachovsky stit 2654m
41 Slovenia – Triglav 2864m
42 Spain – Mulhacén 3478m
43 Sweden – Kebnekaise 2111m
44 Switzerland – Dufourspitze 4634m
45 Turkey – Mahya Dagi 1030m
46 Ukraine – Goverla 2061m
47 Vatican City – St Peter’s Dome 132m
48 Wales – Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa 1085m
Some Disputed High Points
Azores – Mount Pico 2351m
Canary Islands – Mount Teide 3718m
Faeroe Islands – Slaettaratindur 882m
Italy – Gran Paradiso 4061m; Mont Blanc de Courmayeur 4748m; Nordend (Monte Rosa) 4609m
Turkey – Mount Ararat 5137m
Appendix 1 Countries of Europe Fact Table
Appendix 2 Mountain Routes Graded by Difficulty
Appendix 3 Table of Mountain Heights
Appendix 4 Glossary of Mountaineering Terms
Appendix 5 Further Reading
Appendix 6 Cicerone guides to Europe’s high points
Location Central Italy, 10km from Adriatic coast, 24km from Rimini
Start San Marino town
Map(s) Tourist maps showing Monte Titano’s three towers available from tourist information offices
Climbing period Year-round
Ascent Little; depends on where you can park, or where bus drops you
Time 30mins plus extra time for negotiating narrow streets full of trinket stores
Water Numerous cafés
Accommodation Numerous hotels and two campsites
Getting there San Marino signposted from A14 Bologna-Ancona autoroute. Take winding road up to San Marino town; many tourist car parks.
Public transport Nearest station Rimini, then bus to San Marino
Nearby high point St Peter’s Dome (Vatican City)
Tourist information leaflets for San Marino claim that this tiny republic is the most visited country in the world. I can hear some sniggers of disbelief, but this statistic is accurate if you calculate visitor numbers in ratio to native population. You will undoubtedly see plenty of holiday-makers in San Marino and are unlikely to have Monte Titano to yourself. In spite of its slightly ludicrous self-promotion, San Marino and its high point make a surprisingly interesting trip. Monte Titano is the mountain upon which the town of San Marino stands. There is something vaguely fantastical about the place, and comparisons with Jonathan Swift’s Laputa are inevitable. Its highest point is the second of three spectacular fortresses which are connected by winding hilltop walkways with precipices looking down on the surrounding plains of Italy.
Follow signs to the ‘Second Tower’, also known as Cesta Fortress (the highest point in San Marino). You must pay a small entrance fee (€3) to go into the tower and the bizarre museum of weaponry inside (opening hours are 9am–5pm all year, except between Christmas and New Year). Go through the museum until you find a set of wooden steps leading upwards and take these. Go through two trapdoors and out onto a viewing platform at the top of the tower. You will have great views of the other two lower towers, the plains below and the coastline.
Davide Gualtieri, a computer salesman and scorer of the fastest-ever football World Cup goal (8 seconds). He did so in a qualifier against England in 1993.
San Marino has a fair claim to be the world’s oldest republic, founded in AD301. Napoleon in his conquest of Western Europe refused to conquer San Marino.