I'm moving to Eindhoven, and I've seen the Alps are not that far. I could drive south on a Friday night and get back home in the earliest hours of Monday, kind of following the footsteps of Fowler, Saunders, etc. In your opinion, would this be feasible? I think it is not that different than going from London to Scotland.
Are there any Netherlands-based winter climbers these days that are doing the same?
I guess flying could be an option, but it's a faff to drive to the airport, wait for your (sometimes delayed or even cancelled) flight, check-in your crampons and ice tools, waiting for them, renting a car.. I think it's just easier to drive.
I wouldn’t do it but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It did do Darmstadt to Cham return one summer weekend, going up MB de Tacul on the Sunday and the drive back was hard work and I was in my late 30s then and fairly used to lots of driving. Eindhoven is considerably further north. Also, German motorways are now often clogged with jams. The section around Karlsruhr is particularly prone, so driving times are a lottery.
That's a good 8-hour drive to the nearest significant climbs. You'd have to leave mid afternoon, drive down, perhaps walk an hour in the dark before bivvying, get a modest amount of sleep before rising early, do your climb over the course of the next 30 hours or so, then drive back before getting another modest night's sleep before whatever you do on Monday.
Sounds like the kind of thing I'd be up for now and then, but definitely not every weekend. Factor in David's considerations and you may decide you prefer to spend those 20 hours in the car doing something else. Find someone similarly nuts, though, and these things are always a blast.
You're right, it's no worse than London to Scotland, realistically. I have done both many times (not from the Netherlands, but regularly Munich to Chamonix).
That said, it's not the sort of thing that is doable very weekend. I honestly don't know how Fowler and co managed the infamous 11 weekends in a row. Maybe it's doable if you have people to split the driving with.
I'm not Netherlands-based but I'm looking for new alpine partners so if you want to meet up with a comparable driving handicap, let me know!
I don't know any Netherlands based climbers but know of people in Brussels who drive to the Alps for a weekend (try looking for the guy who posts here as Carless). Must be a similar distance.
The nearest I've done was the occassional weekend (skitouring rather than winter climbing) from Nancy (easten France) which seemed far enough & is a few hours south of you. I quickly decided I'd rather use a day or 2 of leave and go for 3 or 4 day weekends. From Nancy we tended to go to the Oberland as that was the closest.
“Find someone similarly nuts, though, and these things are always a blast.”
I agree. I’ve done similar in that I’ve done Friday evening to Monday morning trips to Scotland from Cornwall a number of times, including winter trips to Lochaber for NE Buttress on The Ben, Torridon for Beinn Alligin and Liachach traverses (massive piss up in between on the Saturday night) and on the most ridiculous occasions Skye Ridge winter (though not surprisingly unsuccessful at full traverse) and one time up near Ullapool for Fiddler’s Nose and Ardmair (summer). Similarly I’ve done Cornwall to The Peak and The Lakes there and back in a day loads of times.
I can’t comment on The Alps, but what I would say is that in the couple of days immediately preceding these trips I’ve always wondered what the hell was I thinking but from the moment I get in the car, psyched out of my mind with some other idiot, I’ve never regretted them and they’ve always been absolutely brilliant. For me, these trips have been amongst the most memorable and strangely successful that I’ve ever done; though maybe I just got lucky. Enjoy and good luck!
Speaking as Dutchy;
There are no queues at Eindhoven airport but there are limited flights to the alps. AMS has more connections but will be a longer drive (time wasted).
It is possible to drive-climb-drive but you won't get more than 100km/h on the average in either Germany or France so it's a pretty long drive before you're in the mountains.
Driving out Thursday night driving back Sunday night getting back to work on Monday is doable. Did it a quiet a few times in the past and had some lovely outings.
When I lived in Delft, I did a few times for skiing. Generally a long weekend though (skip Fri at work, start driving Thu after work and arrive absolutely knackered on Mon or Tue morning).
So doable, but not that nice.
The sleeper trains to Zurich/Basel was a lot better option. But naturally you'll need wheels from there onwards.
A few of us used to drive from Frankfurt to Verbier most weekends. We took full advantage of the autobahns so 5/6 hours was a decent run. Admittedly we had access to a company car that could sit at 220kph (where possible) with full kit and 5 folk Eindhoven is a fair bit further north so not sure I’d be quite so keen on committing to that more than once a month. The last 30mins/hour on the Sunday drive back to FFT was often a bit sketchy due to fatigue so there is that element of risk to factor in too.
> I honestly don't know how Fowler and co managed the infamous 11 weekends in a row. Maybe it's doable if you have people to split the driving with. >
Yes, they generally had 4 in a car and split the driving into shifts with a couple of the others sleeping. I still don't really fancy it!
The best one of these I've done is a single day mission to Tannheimer Tal (northern tip of Austria) from Stuttgart area in order to climb Schwarze Mamba (7a).
Worked a full day, got in the car, drove ~3.5hrs whilst eating, pack the bags and sleep in the car park for around 5 hours before getting up at 3:30am, starting the approach at 4:00am to get to the base at 5:30ish and already at the first belay by 6:00am - it was April and proper chilly!
We were back down at the car by 1:30pm and home by 5 ready to collapse. I think the pressure of the timeframe focuses the team mindset and makes for success!
Cornwall to the Lakes is bloody miles for a day trip - how long is the drive?
Done it many many times from Rotterdam area to the Alps for snowboarding (not climbing). Normally for a 3 day trip. Taking the Friday off. Feels like a proper break, as you get 3 full days snowboarding in my case.
Also done it for the just the weekend, but that's a bit more tiring.
Leave at 2-3 on Thurs afternoon. Drive until 11 ish, up at 6:30 and in a resort for first lift. Having a van helps though, as you can just drive until tired/fed up and them pull over for a proper sleep before continuing. 3 full days, and leave around 2pm on the Sunday.
You will always hit traffic somewhere travelling down on a Thur/Fri evening, but the travel home on a Sunday afternoon can be much easier/quicker.
The key for me was always getting an early finish to set off, plus driving whilst you're getting paid always seems easier.....
I'm a Netherlands based climber since around 6 years (further north, near Assen), but must admit that I've never done the drive to the alps, except for skiing, and that was for 4 days at least. However, I've kept saying that I must start trying to hit the alps on occasion once I find a partner, particularly out of the busy season.
So, if you're looking for someone to go with, feel free to drop me a line. I'm not a particularly technical climber as I go much less frequently than I'd like (comfortable leading to grade III and HS), but I do enjoy a good old winter bivi on the mountain and I always bring summit whiskey
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