Europe

The Trip Finder, January 1997


Europe
By Kathy Martin O'Neil


New Austria | Czech And Slovak Republics | England | Germany | Classic Greece | Iceland | Russia | Scandinavia | Spain/France | Classic Switzerland/France

New Austria
Ski Race Training
The Route
An 11-day masters race-training clinic with U.S. and Austrian Olympic skiers in the ƒtztal Alps of Sòlden and Obergurgl in southern Tirol, where you'll have intensive on-hill instruction all day, plus evening clinics
When To Go
Oct
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
No racing experience is necessary but you should be at least an advanced intermediate skier. It's highly recommended that you start dry-land training eight weeks before the trip.
High/Low Points
Having your racing form critiqued by Olympian Kristin Krone and the Austrian national team
Having your racing form critiqued by Olympian Kristin Krone and the Austrian national team

Outfitters Departures Price*
North American Ski Training Center
1
$2,900*


Czech And Slovak Republics
Cycling Prague and the Eastern European Countryside
The Route
A six- to 14-day spin out of Prague along the gently rolling back roads of rural southern Bohemia or the High Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, cycling up to 50 miles per day among medieval villages and farms
When To Go
May - Sep
Difficulty
Easy to moderate
Travel Advisory
Some outfitters offer a side trip into Austria along the Danube bike path to Vienna, but you might want to add a day or two to your trip and cycle the 118-mile path on your own--it's a gorgeous route.
High/Low Points
Quaffing almost as much "pivo," the world-famous Czech pilsner beer, as you want, knowing you'll ride off the calories
Touring one too many Bohemian crystal factories

Outfitters Departures Price*
Backroads
Butterfield & Robinson
EuroCycle
Kolotour
REI Adventures
7
2
16
14
4
$1,798
$3,250
$550
$1,695-$3,095*
$1,750


England
Mountain Biking Coast to Coast
The Route
A nine- to 11-day off-road odyssey from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, through the Lakeland Mountains, the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, and the York Moors, with overnights in country inns
When To Go
Jun - Sep
Difficulty
Moderate to strenuous
Travel Advisory
Bring your mountain bike, in top mechanical condition, along with a tool kit and spare parts, for this 210-mile route. Or rent a bike for $125 per week from Bike Treks International, $110 per trip from KE Adventure Travel.
High/Low Points
Rolling down the harbor slip at Robin Hood's Bay for the ceremonial tire dip in the North Sea
Pushing your bike the last 850 feet up steep Black Sail Pass in the Lake District "hills"

Outfitters Departures Price*
Bike Treks International
KE Adventure Travel
5
1
$1,250
$1,395


Germany
Hiking the Black Forest or the Bavarian Alps
The Route
A five- to nine-day jaunt through southwestern Germany's Black Forest from Stuttgart or into Bavaria from Munich. You'll hike eight to 16 miles per day on grassy trails past churches, alpine lakes, and Mad King Ludwig's castles.
When To Go
May - Sep
Difficulty
Easy to moderate
Travel Advisory
Forum and REI's Black Forest trips are self-guided, but your luggage is transported from mountain inn to mountain inn each day. Euro-Bike's Bavaria hike is fully guided and van-supported.
High/Low Points
Strolling with lederhosen-clad villagers out for their obligatory Sunday Bergwanderung
Strolling with lederhosen-clad villagers after two hefty slices of Black Forest cake

Outfitters Departures Price*
Euro-Bike Tours
Forum Travel International
REI Adventures
2
on demand
5
$1,995
$475-$885
$950


Classic Greece
Sailing the Greek Isles
The Route
A nine- to 14-day island-hopping cruise in the Saronic Gulf or the Ionian, Cyclades, Dodecanese, or Sporades Islands aboard large sailing yachts or wooden Greek caiques, with days spent swimming and hiking
When To Go
May - Oct
Difficulty
Easy
Travel Advisory
Cruising the Greek Isles is nothing like sailing in the Caribbean or South Pacific. There are no significant open-water crossings in Greece, and the sailing is slow because of frequent shallows and hidden rocks.
High/Low Points
Gliding into port at sunset to settle down in a taverna for a three-hour moussaka and retsina fest
Getting stung during your morning swim by jellyfish, which thrive in the polluted Mediterranean

Outfitters Departures Price*
Adventure Center
Guides for All Seasons
Hellenic Adventures
weekly
1
4
$775
$2,450
$3,655-$5,150*


Iceland
Riding Horseback to Volcano Hekla
The Route
A grand six-day ride on Icelandic mounts through a harsh, primitive landscape on the edge of the Arctic Circle filled with geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, and lava fields. You'll overnight in mountain huts.
When To Go
Jun - Aug
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
The surefooted Icelandic ponies have been purebred for centuries and have a smooth fourth and fifth gait that lets you cover 25 miles per day comfortably. You should have intermediate riding skills and be prepared for rough conditions.
High/Low Points
Galloping across a desert of volcanic ash to get to Hekla's most recent lava flows
Knowing that your fat and cholesterol levels are soaring with a week's worth of meals rich in cream and butter

Outfitters Departures Price*
Equitour-FITS Equestrian
5
$1,020


Russia
Climbing Mount Elbrus
The Route
A ten- to 16-day trip to climb one of the Seven Summits, Europe's highest peak, 18,481-foot Elbrus, including acclimatization stays in the Baksan Valley with instruction in ice climbing and crevasse rescue
When To Go
Jul - Sep
Difficulty
Strenuous
Travel Advisory
Don't be lulled by the fact that Elbrus is an intermediate, not highly technical climb: More than 50 percent of the climbers who attempt the summit turn back because of high altitude, wind and cold, or poor acclimatization.
High/Low Points
Stopping to take in the stunning views of Ushba, the Matterhorn of the Caucasus, on the way up Elbrus's dual-coned volcanic slopes
Climbing past garbage dumped on the glacier near Pruit Hut at 13,800 feet

Outfitters Departures Price*
Alpine Ascents International
Mountain Madness
REI Adventures
Summits Adventure Travel
1
1
3
1
$2,600
$2,500
$1,795
$2,395


Scandinavia
Cycling Norway, Denmark, and/or Sweden
The Route
A six- to 15-day pedal among the fjords of western Norway, the long beaches and farmland of Denmark's islands, or Sweden's pastoral interior. You'll ride 20 to 75 miles per day and do some mountain biking in areas of Norway.
When To Go
Jun - Aug
Difficulty
Easy to moderate
Travel Advisory
Pack your layers: It's been known to snow in August in Norway, parts of which are on the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska.
High/Low Points
Pedaling down a hill into Norway's Sognefjord, the longest (130 miles) and deepest (3,700 feet) fjord in the world
Being served such Scandinavian delicacies as smoked eel and lutefisk (codfish soaked in lye).

Outfitters Departures Price*
Backroads [Nor]
Blue Marble Travel [Den, Nor]
Borton Overseas [Den]
Butterfield & Robinson [Den]
Euro-Bike Tours [Den, Swe]
Gerhard's Bicycle Odysseys [Den, Nor]
4
2
15
2
1
1
$2,195
$2,395
$650-$1,530
$3,825
$3,295
$3,295


Spain/France
Hiking through the Heart of the Pyrenees
The Route
An eight- to 15-day hike through the mountain cirques, green valleys, and whitewashed villages of the Pyrenees, including visits to ancient stone churches and overnights in rustic refuges or mountain inns
When To Go
May - Oct
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Robert Laxalt's In a Hundred Graves: A Basque Portrait (University of Nevada Press) is worth a pre-trip browse for background on Basque culture.
High/Low Points
Actually seeing wildlife such as chamois and golden eagles in highly tamed Western Europe
Feeling dizzy after zooming down dozens of switchbacks on a few particularly steep descents

Outfitters Departures Price*
Backroads
Condor Adventures
Himalayan Travel
Mountain Travel-Sobek
Wilderness Travel
Wildland Adventures
4
2
2
4
4
2
$2,695
$1,995
$1,175
$1,895
$2,095
$2,295


Classic Switzerland/France
Climbing the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc
The Route
An eight- or 11-day expedition to Europe's classics: glaciated 15,771-foot Mont Blanc in France and the technical rock faces of Switzerland's 14,691-foot Matterhorn and 13,025-foot Eiger, with warm-up ascents in the Chamonix area
When To Go
Jul - Sep
Difficulty
Strenuous
Travel Advisory
Climbers need to have multipitch rock experience, know how to use crampons and travel on glaciers, and be in good physical condition. Ideally, climbers will have climbed ten pitches rated 5.5 or harder.
High/Low Points
Summiting Western Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc, for 360-degree vistas into France, Italy, and Switzerland
Summiting Western Europe's highest peak to find 50 other mountaineers already on top

Outfitters Departures Price*
American Alpine Institute
Aventuras Patagonicas
The Northwest Passage
4
2
1
$3,390-$4,940
$2,500
$4,450


* includes airfare from U.S.

Copyright 1997, Outside magazine

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