March 2017: The 135 highpoints of my list are all ticked off: The comprehensive volume "From now on it's all uphill – via Pinneberg and Pico to the summits of Europe" has been issued by MALIK in EDITION PIPER, Munich.
Until proof of the opposite I claim to be the first who has achieved this. All my "competitors" were misguided at places, especially in some countries where the "official" highpoint is not the real one; or they have climbed artificial structures higher than the natural highpoints – anyway: It becomes clear that it is all a matter of definition. Not only needs it be defined what "Europe" is, one has also to make up one's mind about what is a "state", even what is a "mountain":
I thank all those who have helped me over the years to identify Europe's highpoints country-by-country, to assist in preparing and carrying out my climbs, especially in borderline, dubious areas, from Chechnya to Transnistria, from Svalbard to Gibraltar. I am grateful having survived, unharmed by landmines, bears, KGB officials and militias.
Yet 135 targets are not enough. When I was busy working myself through the Pyrenees – virtually – to explore the border separating France from Spain, and I realized that I have overlooked two “independent” countries:
First I should have devoted an own chapter to the Isle of Pheasants, that island in the Basque river Bidassoa which swings every half year from a French to a Spanish sovereignty. Unique worldwide!
Exchange of flags on the Isle of Pheasants
Then I have overlooked the Pays Quint. The Spaniards call this piece of land Quinto real, the Basques call it Kintoa. It belongs to Spain politically, but to France economically; eight French families inhabit its 2.5 square kilometers. The highest point is the Adi – 1459 metres.
The Quinto Real waits to be explored!
If this is such a colourful display in the Pyrenees alone, how will it then look like in the rest of Europe! How many “independent” countries will there be in total? I guess I could easily reach 150, if I only wanted.
And the European merry-go-round is speeding up, new states emerge, old ones drown. Scptland was just at the brim, Catalonia will soon follow. Actually the People's Republics of Donezk and Luhansk – Донeцкая Нарoдная Респyблика and Луганская Народная Республика – have emerged off the Ukraine that is breaking apart. Their highest points are quickly identified: For the former we find a nameless point 216 close to the Russian border, north-east of Tarasovka:
The highest point of the People's Republic of Luhansk is the 367.1 m high hill Гора Могила Мечетная (Gora Mogila Mečetnaja) south-west of Luhansk, about halfway between Donezk and Luhansk:
But I will have to wait, until the situation there has consolidated. Then they will be easy prey!
"My Highest Ones" – the ultimate answer to the question what "altitude" means; Mount Everest will be merciless thrown from its throne, for measuring height from sea level is arbitrary. Suddenly Chimborazo and Thabana Ntlenyana will rise to become the Highest on this Earth;
"Germany Extreme" – about its geographical extremes;
"Germany roundabout" – a hiking tour along Germany's weird border, to tri-border points and other oddities;
"To the springs!" – Visit the springs of Germany's longest rivers, document them and cast this into a special travel guide;
"4 ridges – 1 summit" – casts a light on pyramids, as they stand for real mountains when these are not at hand.
"602 + 70 + 45 and even more Border Markers" – about the French/Spanish border in the Pyrenees. Why is that border so fascinating? Because of its pulsating lung at the Pheasant Isle in the Bidassoa, because of its economical permeability, its artificial nature, with its bubble of Andorra, with its arabesque of Llívia, with its peculiar construct of Pays Quint.
Other projects underway:
"My Own State – or is it No Man's Land?" – a guide into ultimate nonsense, all in a self-made state.
What does still require hiking and field research?
June/July 2017: Along the Hadrian's Wall from Wallsend in the East to Bowness-on-Solway in the West; return on the Stanegate from West to East; from Kilpatrick in the West to Bo'ness on the Firth of Forth in the East along the Antonine Wall;
August/September/October 2017: Along the Upper-Germanic and Rhaetian Limes from Rheinbrohl/Rhine to Eining/Danube; supplemented perhaps by the traces of the Dacian Limes in Romania;
to be documented in a massive book series – title still to be determined.
And when there is nothing left to lose: "Mountains of the Bible" – during which I will probably be shot dead.