Trans Alpine Vol Bivouac Expedition
International travel has never been easier, buy
a ticket then step aboard a high tech tube with wings and enjoy the
in-flight entertainment. Surely nothing could be simpler.
A single personal test remains to thwart the traveller, the one that
taxes our personal resolve to remain seated buckled-up for as long as
it takes. Freedom is only restored after the crew have switched
off the seat-belt sign at the terminal building. Somehow
the sensation and exhilaration of manned flight has become completely
sanitised. No longer a journey to live long in the memory nor an experience
to savour merely a form of travel that has to be endured.
Chris Scammell has put his spin on international
travel. He will embark on a journey that must be lived by savouring
the experience of free-flight. Chris Scammell intends to traverse from
west-east the entire length of the Alps during an unsupported bivouac
expedition by paraglider.
Chris' journey will start amongst the scented pines of the Alpes Maritime where the mountains dip their toes in to the Mediterranean Sea along the chic French Riviéra and the Côte dAzure. From this province nestled into the corner where the French-Italian border meet the sea, Chris will catch a giant wave of rock that abruptly rises to over 3,000 m (10,000 feet) in 50 kms (30 miles). This tectonic wave sweeps northward to crest on the glacial white plumes of Mont Blanc at 4,807 m (15,771 feet). Here the wave breaks right in a majestic easterly arc floating the great European Alpine wilderness over the Silvretta and Rhätikon ranges, mountains that form Central Europes major watershed. This giant bulge of peaks and windswept crags divide the restless Alpine rivers between the mighty Rhine and Danube. Rolling onward the wave almost imperceptibly eases as it fans out both south - towards the troubled Balkans and ever eastward. Where it gently tapers to lie softly under the vast expanse of deep dark conifers that are the Wienerwald - the Viennese Forest. Finally the wave floods onto the vast Hungarian Plain close to the placid waters of Neusiender See and journeys end, Vienna. To reach this point Chris will have soared over 1,000 kms (600 miles) of the great Alpine wave whose crests form the Roof of Europe.
Chris is an experienced climber and it was during
his time in the high mountains that the new sport of paragliding first
fired his imagination ten years ago. At first Chris'l paragliding was
simply a means of descending rapidly from a large mountain. An expedient
means that lead to a longer session by the fire in a local pub with
a well earned beer or several as the end - the classic end to a cracking
day in the hills. The last four or five years have seen great advances
in paraglider design that have introduced phenominal improvements in
flight performance and safety. Developments that have radically altered
the potential of these wings of change. A sophistication
that still retains the fundamental concept that requires the whole rig
to pack neatly into a rucksack for an easy carry comfortably on a pilots
back. Naturally a complimentary evolution of pilots expectations
and demands has moved in-concert. The flexibility promoted by these
aircraft-in-a-backpack has prompted a small yet growing number of adventurers
to access and explore the remotest of the Worlds wildernesses.
Today Chris spares no time for rock climbing, preferring to focus all
his energy on the next flight. Although Chris promises to make a return
to climbing one day the hypnotic lure and scope of free-flight for personal
exploration are temptations too powerful to resist.
The Alps are a small mountain chain by Himalayan
or Andean standards and they are shared geographically by seven European
countries - France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy,
and Slovenia. Alpine inhabitants are ethnically very diverse and yet
through the seasonal cycle of mountain life they have more in common
with each other than with their lowland countrymen. Continued economic
pressure is forcing rapid change on each alpine berger. Traditional
agrarian lifestyles can no longer compete with lowland economies of
scale. Tourism has effectively brought a form of reprieve. An economic
respite that has in turn impacted heavily on todays much sought
after Alpine wilderness. Sadly in the wake of this overt commercial
pressure many local habits and customs have paid a heavy price and are
now sadly lost to posterity. Living their journey Chris will hopefully
discover some of the mellow flavour of the original Alpine way of life
beyond the gaze and reach of the I want it now culture.
The successful completion of this route or one
with a similar content will rank as a Worlds first by capping
the CAP 1111 by paraglider. A CAP is a designation
given to those vol bivouac flights that satisfy some basic criteria;
a paraglider or hang glider and on foot are the only means of travel
- with a 10% upper limit of the total distance that may be travelled
on foot. The route travelled may be re-crossed once and the whole journey
must be completed without organised support.