The Ultimate Hiking & Paragliding Trip in the Alps

Find out how Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer took on an ambitious project to circle the Alps.
Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer hike and fly the Alps
A rare moment of air © Lukas Pilz
By Josh Sampiero

Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer set out to accomplish the longest possible hike-and-fly trip in the Alps, a project they named the Adriatic Circle, and began their journey on foot in Ancona, Italy, in 2014. Their goal was to get back to their starting point by circling clockwise through Italy, France, Switzlerland, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia before crossing the sea back to Ancona.

But halfway through the trip tragedy struck when de Dorlodot crashed into a tree while trying to land his paraglider in windy, dangerous conditions. The accident left him severely injured, and Guschlbauer decided that rather than continuing alone, he would wait for de Dorlodot to finish the trip. De Dorlodot eventually made a full recovery, and on May 8, 2015, the two began right where they left off.

One foot after the other, one day after the next ...

The route across the Alps

This time, the duo achieved their goal, and their story is in the numbers: 1,335 miles covered over a total of 45 days, 10 hours and 59 minutes, averaging 29.02 miles per day. The cost? One pair of shoes, more calories than you can count and eight broken bones — including fractured vertebrae. If the Adriatic Circle isn’t adventure, we don’t know what is.

One-day total: 83,062 footsteps, according to Guschlbauer's Instagram:

Back to the numbers. Since the beginning of the adventure, it was more "hike" than "fly" — the boys covered almost 433 miles in the air on various flying days, but clocked 903 miles on foot — making it no surprise that they needed well over a month’s time on the road to finish, even with a hard, hard push at the end including multiple 43-mile days.

“The last days we had a strong northeast wind that kept us grounded. Simply no good conditions for flying," says Guschlbauer.

Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer hike and fly the Alps
An uphill battle © Lukas Pilz

Upon arriving in Zadar, the original plan was to do a paramotor flight across the Adriatic back to Ancona, but little things like international border laws prevented it from happening. Unable to secure a boat to ensure their safety, the boys had to travel amid the unwashed masses, returning to Italy by ferry. (Actually, after weeks of hiking, we’re pretty sure the masses were cleaner than they were.)

Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer hike and fly the Alps
Lots of miles on those shoes © Lukas Pilz

So what was learned? For the previously injured de Dorlodot, much. “I still was a little worried before we started,” he says. “But in the end, I was able to do it, pushing hard, pain free. It’s a great feeling to leave that behind!”

Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer hike and fly the Alps
Plenty of snow up high © Lukas Pilz

“It was an exhausting, but interesting, experience," adds Guschlbauer. "We both know how it feels to walk really long. We’ve never had to do that without a competition, but we found the right motivation, and with that, it’s amazing what you can do!”

But apart from exhaustion, what remains most is the feeling of accomplishment. “We said last year we’d finish and now it’s done,” says de Dorlodot. “It’s time to focus on Red Bull X-Alps and what’s ahead!”

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