Unlike Americans, Germans head south for the summer, relying on altitude rather than latitude for reasonable temperatures. Once ensconced in the Bavarian alps, these Teutonic tourists pull their socks up to their knees and start hiking up the rugged ridges that define the border with Austria's Tyrol region.
This annual migration is both traditional and radical. These mountains are not to be taken lightly.
Already this summer, a wingsuit flyer has perished in the Alps and an older hiker was stuck in an Austrian crevasse for six days. If Chamonix, in the French Alps, is a playground than the area around the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest peak, is a proving ground. It seems fitting that the chapel on its slope was consecrated by the current pope before he moved into the Vatican.
The area has also seen significant investment in recent years aimed at making the area a year-round destination for foreigners, who have typically flocked to the area for its Christmas markets come December. Among the new infrastructure is the AlspiX, which consists of two viewing platforms curving out into thin air like melting Olympic diving platforms. The panorama is memorable and the crowds may not be European for much longer.
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