1992 was the year I first headed to the Alps. I was on a trip with a couple of friends from university, we had a very limited budget and our basic plan was to head somewhere in Europe for a week but avoid the standard beach holidays that everyone else seemed to be going on.
The one place we all agreed on that was within our budget was a tiny village called Söll in Austria. We had no idea what we were likely to be doing once we got there. The thought was turn up, find a map, see what was there, wander around. At the time, Söll was a very tiny village – a few shops, a couple of bike rental places, a few ski shops, a pub and not much else. It definitely looked to be a great winter destination, definitely sleepy during summer.
No matter. Around Söll, there are plenty of hiking trails, biking trails and places to get lost in. Kitzbühel is a short bus or train journey. We ended up grabbing a hiking map and each day just set off on a different path to see what was there. This was my first hiking trip basically, and the first opportunity to wander up some mountains. I was completely unprepared, my gear was incredibly basic, a bad storm could easily have made our lives incredibly uncomfortable but we stomped all over the valley and all over the surrounding mountains.
The final hike was dedicated to charging up the Hohe Salve, just over 3500 feet elevation from our hotel which was situated at the bottom of the hike. This was my first attempt at an elevation that would qualify as a munro in Scotland. A tough sweaty day was had but the elation at reaching the summit was something that I still remember. It is at that point that the bug for hiking really kicked in. Not long after that, the bug for mountain photography also kicked in.
Twenty six years later, I’m back on the Hohe Salve but taking a slightly more relaxed approach to getting to the summit….