Journal | Travel
This ultimate book about mountain roads is as big and heavy as a rock
The new book «Mountain Roads» by photographer Stefan Bogner and author Jan Baedeker is a 496-page tribute to the world’s most beautiful hairpins, serpentines, and alpine roads. Today the boulder-sized, 6-kilo magnum opus has dropped in the Classic Driver Shop. We publish an exclusive extract.
The mountain was there yesterday. And it’ll be there tomorrow. It has no interest in us. Its sense of time is geological, we’re little more than a moth that has landed on its broad flanks a moment ago: the prehistoric hunters, the Roman legions, the pilgrims and medieval traders, the road builders with their dynamite, the royal carriages, the puffing steam trains, the freezing soldiers with their rifles, the first motorists wrapped in clouds of dust and the echo of their engines, the cyclists and their iron thighs and tight trousers, the honking postal coaches, motor-homes and buses, the roaring racing machines – the mountain couldn’t care less. Mule tracks, military thoroughfares, trade routes, panoramic roads – merely fleeting shadows on its elephant skin. When a wave of rock piles up and breaks in the slowest of all slow motion for a billion years – what then is a decade, a century, a millennium?
The mountain stands still in the raging sea of time. The rise and fall of civilizations, the march of progress and technology in the modern world – for human ambition, the mountains have always represented both an adversary and an incentive. By dividing valleys and villages, countries and cultures, mountains have challenged us. Yet we always found a way. Long ago, it took weeks to conquer the icy summits, wrapped in furs trudging through ice and snow. We feared bears and wolves, we begrudgingly paid the toll charge, searching for the flickering lamps and life-saving hospice at the top of the pass. Now we sit in leather seats as we hurtle through neon-lit tunnels of granite, traversing entire mountain ranges in a matter of minutes, or we fly over snow-covered peaks in climate-controlled aircraft. The mountains, which once seemed as high as the sky, have not only lost their terror, for modern traffic, they’ve now been leveled to the ground. And the alpine roads, crafted by generations of brilliant builders to span gorges and peaks, the stage achievements carved in stone against nature’s superior might? They have turned into adjuncts to our road networks, ephemeral traces of past mobility. But now that engineers of today prefer to drill through the mountains instead of traversing them, will the old serpentine roads soon be abandoned, closed to protect the mountains from our highly motorized addiction to pleasure?View All Books