“Bergseele” travel book: On foot across the Alps – travel

The wrong time of day, the wrong weather – Miriam Mayer repeatedly struggles with the circumstances. As a photographer, she simply wants optimal conditions. But not having this, that is what makes her book “Bergseele” so attractive, which shows her crossing of the Alps in a striking way: in the photographs you can see the changeable conditions, the rain, the high fog, the snow-laden clouds. You can see that the sun is not always perfect when looking at the alpine panorama. In short: you see what you would see if you were to venture out on such a tour yourself. And not an embellished picture that has little to do with everyday life in the mountains.

Miriam Mayer, born in 1995, was exposed to everyday alpine life for a month. The graduate of the Munich University of Applied Sciences in Photo Design last summer walked with her friend Lukas Reumschüssel on foot from Tegernsee, where she comes from, to Verona. The route leads from the Karwendel over the Tux and Zillertal Alps to the Rieserferner Group and on through the Dolomites to the Fleimstaler and finally the Vinzentiner Alps. Mayer and Reumschüssel have meticulously prepared for this adventure, this credo runs through Mayer’s descriptions: That you need a plan, always a plan B, something that you can rely on, that gives the adventure support and structure.

Travel book

The view from the Rieserfernerhütte in the Hohe Tauern, where Miriam Mayer and Lukas Reumschüssel were the only guests.

(Photo: Miriam Mayer)

Thorough preparation is essential if you don’t want to put yourself in danger lightly. How sophisticated it turns out in detail is certainly a matter of type. Miriam Mayer describes herself as a “passionate doubter”, her need for security is great. When the two of them are on their way over the Keilbachjoch – a route that is not so often chosen to cross the main Alpine ridge – they get confused. You will realize that you will need a lot more time and effort than calculated.

Physical fitness can be trained. Frustration tolerance not so good.

When Mayer and Reumschüssel reach the ridge, however, it is only half past one in the afternoon, and the weather is good and stable. The reasons for losing your nerve in such a situation, as happened to the author and photographer, are therefore not necessarily objective in nature. Miriam Mayer draws attention to a central topic: physical fitness is a minor problem when crossing the Alps – you can train it in advance, it can also be assessed quite well, and it automatically increases again on a tour like this.

It is more difficult with one’s own frustration tolerance. With the ability to suffer and the motivation. Dealing with fear and doubt. Mayer keeps coming back to this. It doesn’t tell a hero story. She doesn’t dramatize. She knows that others were faster and bolder, got into more dangerous situations, had stranger encounters. In this way, it is closer to the core of such an Alpine crossing.

In this context, the photographs are also of immense value: Mayer and Reumschüssel did not catch either above-average good or bad weather. It snowed and rained, but they also caught sunburns. Miriam Mayer documents this on the one hand, and on the other hand she also aesthetizes the scenery: She succeeds in taking exciting and meaningful photos in difficult lighting moods and visibility conditions. This is always a high standard in mountain photography.

Miriam Mayer: Mountain soul. On foot across the Alps. TeNeues publishing house, Munich / Düsseldorf 2021. 240 pages, 24.90 euros.


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