Where the swallows go

No, not some big journey. Just a hike up a medium summit in the northern Alps, the “Schwalbenwand”, with a good friend. Three hours of a stiff walk, one hour of a flight. But hey, what a view.

Moving along the ridge there is free sight to both sides once you get above the trees. In the north lies the massive block of the “Steinplatte”, southward you look at the spine of the Alps, a continuous row of 3000m summits. Some say there are way more than 100.

The path almost disappears in the higher part, but since its all grassy slopes up there you just aim for the summit. Or should I use the plural? Every time you approach one, the next one further up comes in sight. Though it’s the end of May, some snow fields lie in our way – sure, the higher areas have snow all year, but this little peak of 2000m is supposed to be sunny and dry now.

“Schwalbenwand” means “wall of swallows”. There are none now, summer still to come, but we understand the name. To the north the mountain breaks down into a vertical cliff, carrying insects up in the updrafts, making the place a swallow’s paradise. Not for the careless hiker, that’s for sure.

It’s easy to lay out the lightweight glider on the top. Strong gusts require some care, but since we don’t stand on precarious ground it’s all to be handled. Not one fellow pilot around (which is why we choose that kind of place), and that are no cross country merits to gain from here – but the launch into a thermal which carries me six hundred metres above the summit in the first five minutes is more than rewarding. Imagine the view to all sides from an airborne perspective!

Sometimes the tiny adventures make one’s day. No adrenaline rush, no big distances, but, on the other side, a wonderful hike and a stunning view, being all alone in the air. That’s what it’s all about.

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