Is it hollow in the mountain?

Summary of Ascent

The history of alpinism

Mountains have always fascinated people. Stone Age people were already out and about in the mountains: the discovery of the glacier mummy named "Ötzi", which was probably buried under the ice masses since the end of the Neolithic Age, is proof of this. In 218 BC The Carthaginian general Hannibal crossed the Alps with his army and 37 war elephants. The ascent of the almost 2000 meter high Mont Ventoux by the Italian scholar Francesco Petrarca in April 1336 and the conquering of the slightly higher Mont Aiguille on the orders of the French King Charles VIII in 1492 are considered to be the beginning of alpinism. But such undertakings remained exceptional for the time being ; In the Middle Ages, people had mostly superstitious ideas about the inhospitable world of the high mountains and avoided these regions. This attitude persisted well into modern times.

It was not until the end of the 18th century that superstitious fear was replaced by scientific curiosity and the desire to explore the mountains. In 1786, for example, Montblanc, the highest mountain in Europe, was climbed for the first time, and in 1800 the Grossglockner. Alexander von Humboldt penetrated into the high mountains of South America on his research trips. But it was still individuals, researchers and scientists who dared to venture into the mountains. Only when interest in sporting activity grew in the second half of the 19th century and broader strata of the population were able to take recreational trips did the high phase of alpinism begin. At the turn of the century, most of the Alpine peaks had been conquered, and the Alpine region was opened up for tourism with mountain railways and roads. Curiously enough, the first Alpine Club came into being in England: in 1857 the Alpine Club was founded in London. The Austrian Alpine Club followed in 1862 and the Swiss Alpine Club a year later. In the 20th century, efforts were mainly concentrated on conquering difficult sections, such as the ascent of the Eiger north face in 1938. Technical innovations made it possible to use aids such as crampons, ice hooks and special footwear.


Ludwig Hohl began working on the story Bergfahrt back in 1926, at the age of 22. However, the work was not published until half a century later, in 1975, when the author was gradually becoming better known. In the decades in between, Hohl reworked the text many times, just as he used to do with other works. In terms of content, the story is strongly autobiographical: Hohl was a mountaineer himself and liked to go on difficult tours on his own. So he knew the mountains well and allowed his knowledge and experience to flow into the text. Age also connects him to the main characters of the story: At the time of the plot, Johann is 23 years old, one year older than the author when he started working on the text. In addition, the action takes place sometime in the first decades of the 20th century, at the time when Hohl began to write his story. Hohl's thinking is influenced by the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Echoes of existentialism with its rather pessimistic view of the world and people can also be found in the story Bergfahrt, in which both main characters fail in the end despite their caution and their efforts.

Impact history

"Hohl is necessary, we are accidental. We document what is human, Hohl defines it." This is how Friedrich Dürrenmatt once judged his fellow writers. Other contemporary authors, such as Max Frisch, Adolf Muschg or Peter Handke, also highly valued his works.

However, Hohl's level of awareness never came close to that of his colleagues. The outsider, who lived withdrawn, wrote little and published even less, was initially mainly known in the writing community, and his works were mostly read by colleagues. Hohl himself did not value the quality of his work. At the beginning of the 1970s, the Swiss author finally became more aware of the public; he only published many of his texts at this time. This is also the case with the story Bergfahrt, which, together with the Nachtlicher Weg collection, is one of the most important prose works by Hohl. He later found literary recognition: in 1978 Ludwig Hohl was awarded the Robert Walser Centenar Prize, and in 1980 the Petrarca Prize. With increasing interest in Ludwig Hohl's work, many of his texts were published for the first time even after his death.