The Mountain Passes of the Alps - A Driver’s Guide

RSS/XML Feed

A comprehensive guide to the Mountain Passes of the Alps by Kurt Mair.

‘The Mountain Passes of the Alps’ is a masterpiece of travel literature, first published in 1930 by Kurt Mair.

The original German book, published as ‘Die Hochstrassen der Alpen’, was the first comprehensive stocktaking of all the Alpine roads and it became the standard reference book for drivers venturing into the Alps by car or motorbike.

Eau Rouge Publishing has translated the original German text into English and has adapted the book so that each geographical section can used individually as a user friendly travel guide, bringing to life one of the world’s most beautiful regions for drivers.

The book impressed its readers with its completeness, the meticulous description of even the smallest roads, illustrated by numerous pictures and maps provided by the author. Kurt Mair drove each and every road himself. The book was continuously updated by him, and later by his wife, Hilde Mair. This was an extraordinary feat, even by today’s standards, considering the comparative lack of infrastructure at the time, not to mention fewer lodgings, lack of modern navigational aids, and the unreliability of a 1930’s vintage car!

Although the book is the product of a bygone age, it is still an immensely useful tool today, serving as both a road atlas and a slice of history at the same time. In October 2012 Kurt Mair’s son, together with his twin sister, drove more than 2000 kilometres, following in his father’s tracks, over numerous alpine passes and mountain roads, mainly in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany. It soon turned out that the roads and pathways described in this book are still driveable!  This is also true for those cut deep into the mountains, often leading to old forts and fortifications from World War I – in many cases affording spectacular views, for example the road onto the Monte Piana near Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Some of the sections have been expanded and updated, but the descriptions of the landscapes, the scenic viewpoints and the history are still valid; only the suggested driving technique will probably bring a smile to the reader’s face!