Hannibal in the Alps–today!

When seven young ski climbers from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and France decide to cross the Alps in only three days, using only their touring skis to climb up and down 13,500 vertical meters for 210 kilometers, what do they call their trip?

But it’s obvious:


(Thanks to Mr Crotchety, a fellow ski enthusiast, for the link.)

It hardly matters that this team, representing Dynafit (a ski maker), made the crossing in the eastern (Austrian) Alps, right around the mountains and valleys where I spent my youth. Hannibal made his crossing, with elephants but without Dynafit skis, in the western (French) Alps, near their highest point. Here is the map of his trip and life (as well as in the masthead above).

We’re not sure exactly where he crossed, so teams from Stanford and other universities are trying to follow in his footsteps to find them (ie, the steps).

But it hardly matters. Daring crossings of the Alps, eastern or western, still evoke, and forever will, the most daring crossing of them all.

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6 thoughts on “Hannibal in the Alps–today!

  1. It might be interesting to find out whether anyone today could cross the Alps with actual elephants, on the exact path which Hannibal allegedly took, and at the same time of year.

    Perhaps an intrepid group will one day organise such an expedition. It’s a way to verify that Hannibal did cross the Alps in the way he said he did.

    • Several people have tried, I believe. I heard a talk somewhere by a British guy who borrowed an elephant to walk over the Alps with him, but (you have already guessed it) he ran into trouble with the animal-rights crowd.

      This is a lobby that Hannibal did not contend with.

    • I was about to say something insensitive about the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Elephants (SPCE, if such a thing exists) and carbon credits.

      If the glaciers of the Alps have indeed receded as The Pasterze , would this make a re-enactment more or less difficult? Maybe they’ve ceded and receded since then.

  2. No elephants plus corporate sponsorship? They have no right to call themselves the Hannibal Tour.

    By the way, I always thought that Col de la Traversette in the Cottian Alps was the generally accepted route that Hannibal took? But I learned that in high school Latin class so it may have gone by the wayside.

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