The Alps are one of the great mountain ranges of the world. Located in south-central Europe, the Alps arch from the coastline of southern France and Monaco into Switzerland, through northern Italy and into Austria, and curve southward through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro - ending on the rugged coastline of the Adriatic Sea in Albania.
The Alps were formed by the northward movement of the African landmass; glaciers from repeated Ice Ages weathered and eroded the range for the last two million years.
The Alps root word may be the Latin altus (high) and albus (white); the word “alpine” describes the climate where it is too cold, too wet, and/or too dry for trees to survive.
Mont-Blanc (White Mountain) is the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and the European Union at 4,810.45+/- m (15,782 ft) above sea level. The summit of Mont Blanc is a thick, perennial ice and snow dome whose thickness varies, so exact and permanent summit elevation are difficult to determine. The location of the summit is on the border of France and Italy.
Sometimes known as “La Dame Blanche” (French for “The White Lady”) it is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence.
Chamonix, in France, was the site of the first Winter Olympics.
“Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears — still, snowy, and serene.
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen foods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;
A desert peopled by storms alone,
Save when the eagle brings some hunter’s bone,
And the wolf tracks her there. How hideously
Its shapes are heaped around — rude, bare and high,
Ghastly, and scared, and riven! — Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-daemon taught her young
Ruin? Were these days their toys? Or did a sea
Of fire envelop once this silent snow? None can reply.
All seems eternal now. The wilderness has a mysterious tongue
Which teaches awful doubt — or faith so mild,
So solemn, so serene, that Man may be,
But for such faith, with Nature reconciles.
Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal
Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood
By all, hut which the wise, and great, and good
Interpret, or make felt, or deeply felt.” Percy Byssche Shelley
FYI - Mary Shelley began her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus while she and her husband spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont in the Jura Mountains, near Geneva, Switzerland. It was the year of no summer because of the eruption of Tambora in the Indonesian archipelago.
Bavarian Alps are the northeastern segment of the Central Alps along the German-Austrian border.
Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace, was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. The castle served as a model for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.
The Bernese Alps are a group of mountain ranges in the western part of the Alps, in Switzerland. The Bernese are the most glaciated region of the Alps and the northern section, the most accessible to tourists.
Mark Twain - A Tramp Abroad: “We located ourselves at the Jungfrau Hotel, one of those huge establishments which that needs of modern travel have created in every attractive spot on the continent. There was a great gathering at dinner, and as usual one heard all sorts of languages. The table d'hote was served by waitresses dressed in the quaint and comely costume of the Swiss peasants. This consists of a simple gros de laine, trimmed with ashes of roses, with an overskirt of sacre bleu ventre saint gris, cut bias on the off side, with facing of petit polonaise and narrow insertions of pate de fois gras backstitched to the mise en scene in the form of a jeu d' esprit. It gives the wearer a singularly piquant and alluring aspect.”
The Matterhorn, in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy, is the classic image of the Alps. Its summit is 4,478 metres (14,692 ft) high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps, and its unique pyramidal shape made it the last Alpine peak to be climbed.
Walt Disney was fascinated by the Matterhorn and made a 1/100 scale replica (147 feet in height) of the mountain as a bobsled ride, opened in 1959 at Disneyland.
When Carl Gustav Jung was seventeen he and his father, a clergyman, took a trip to Rigi ...
“My father pressed a ticket in my hand and said, “You can ride up to the peak alone. I’ll stay here; it’s too expensive for the two of us. Be careful not to fall down anywhere.” With a tremendous puffing, the locomotive shook and rattled me up to the dizzy heights where ever-new abysses and panoramas opened out before my gaze. “Yes,” I thought, “this is it, my world, the real world, the secret, where there are no teachers, no schools, no unanswerable questions, where one can be without having to ask anything. This was the best and most precious gift my father had ever given me.” Memories, Dreams & Reflections
The Tyrolean Alps are located in western Austria. The capital of the state of Tyrol is Innsbruck, famous for ski resorts and for hosting the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. It is to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympics in 2012.
The earliest evidence of skiing has been found in Norway, with 5,000 year old rock paintings, for mountaineering. The British started organizng competitive downhill races in Switzerland in the early 1900s.
St. Bernard's are large dogs known for their gentle temperment, loyalty, vigilance, and rescue abilities. They were bred as working dogs at the traveller's hospice in the Great St. Bernard Pass, the most ancient pass in the Alps.
The pass runs northeast - southwest through the Valais Alps and has been surpassed by the Great St Bernard Tunnel which opened in 1964.
St. Bernard of Menthon (923-1008), after whom the St. Bernard dog and pass are named, is the patron saint of mountaineers, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and backpacking.
The Carthaginian general Hannibal (248-183 BC) surprised the Romans with a well planned attack that included marching his troops, horses and war elephants over the Alps and into the Italian peninsula in 218 BC.
FYI - the original plan was not Hannibal's, but his brother-in-law's, Hasdrubal the Fair, who was assassinated by a Celtic ally before the plan could be activated.
Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Alps at the St. Bernard Pass in May of 1800 in order to suprised the Austrian army at Genoa and reinforce the French troops occupying Italy.
Jacques-Louis David's painting is idealized, crossing the Alps in the spring was a dangerous undertaking that required Napoleon to orchestrate supplies stations along a route that was over 9,000 feet at the lowest point.
The composer Rossini used the tradition Ranz des Vaches (call to dairycows) as part of his William Tell opera, about the Swiss folk hero.
The first part of this 1914 recording by Cesare Sodero's band is the pastoral Ranz des vaches that you will recognized from its use in cartoons to signify “dawn”; the “galop” is the rousing Finale associated with the theme song of “The Lone Ranger”, as gallops along...
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