How to use the map:
Every mark stands for the highest point of that country. Clicking on it opens a sidebar with more information, to close that tab just hit the left-pointing-arrow. Don’t forget to zoom in, some high points are only a few kilometers away from each other, the marks can overlap.
It all sounds so easy… we just hitchhike to each European country, walk up a hill and hit the next one. But have you considered what exactly IS a European country? No doubt about France, Estonia, Hungary, Sweden or Albania, but a number of countries just happen to be in the twilight zone. Google largest cities in Europe and Istanbul comes up first, although Wikipedia subtly adds that it’s a ‘transcontinental’ city. A small part in Europe, but cross the bridge and BAM you’re in little Asia!
Same goes for Russia, the vast majority of the Russian population lives in geographical Europe (ambiguous yet again) yet that’s only a small portion of the country’s surface. Luckily, Mt. Elbrus is entirely located within the European part of Russia so there’s no doubt about that one. Back to Turkey, on the other hand, where we do face the problem of Mt Ararat being located deeply into the Asian part of the country, comfortably nested against Armenia and Iran! So… the country is part European, part Asian, but the mountain is completely Asian? The highest Turkish point on European soil is the Mahya Dagi, a very boring 1030m hill with a military basis on top.
And then there’s Spain and Portugal, whose highest points are both located on their exotic summer cottages in the Atlantic Ocean, some 1500 km off the coasts of the Iberian Peninsula. Same for Denmark and the Netherlands, both of which have crown dependencies in respectively Greenland and the Caribbean! Even the United Kingdom’s Ben Nevis is at stake when South Georgia’s Mount Paget culminates at 2935m! South Georgia is a near-inaccessible archipelago between Argentina and Antarctica, and so very British it’s got its own postage stamps. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this isn’t rocket science but we wish it were. As I’m writing this, our good friend at Guinness (her name is Corrinne) is doing her utter best to help us determine which peaks are considered European and which aren’t. So for now we have a kickass looking map with lots of pinpoints and some strings tied to represent our path, but there’s a very good chance we might have to reconsider our route a couple of times as we progress.
A journey to the highest point of every European country