Sunrise on the mountain: why getting up at 2 a.m. is worth it

Sunset or sunrise? That’s like asking “Dogs or cats?” “Beer or wine?” or “Mountains or Beach?” Such questions tend to put people into two camps. I am definitely on Team SUNRISE. Presumably, it’s because sunrise has always paid off for me. To me, sunrise means getting up early and consciously enjoying the moment. Since I grew up in the mountains of South Tyrol, catching a sunrise also meant climbing up a mountain to see the sunrise in all its splendour. Given how rarely I get up and do that, seeing a proper sunrise necessarily becomes a memorable experience. Or rather, a priceless adventure.
  5 reasons why getting up at 2 a.m. is worth it   When a friend first invited me to tag along and hike the famous Peitlerkofel at sunrise, I initially baulked at the idea. Simply put: getting up in the middle of the night to start climbing in the dark was hardly appealing to me. Ultimately, I overcame my reluctance and joined her on a hike that has since become an annual tradition. True, you can enjoy a mountain sunrise more readily if you spend the night on the mountain top, but it only becomes a true experience when you work for it at night, having overcome all the obstacles on your way up the mountain. And that’s why there are 5 reasons why getting up at 2 a.m. can pay off and why a mountain sunrise can be an unforgettable experience:
  1. The colourful splendour of the Dolomites
Granted, the first part of the hike in the dark can be somewhat monotonous. Once you’ve covered 2/3 of the way, however, as the first summits start appearing with their pinkish hues, they pull you upward and onward and you hardly notice the effort. The explosion of colour unleashed by these otherwise white rock masses is simply fascinating. To top it off, the colours seem to change, from blue to pink to yellow and orange with every passing minute. This means that sunrise, and therefore the destination, can’t be too far away.
  1. That magical moment
No matter how many times you swear during the ascent that you’ll never do this again or you feel like heading back: the magical moment when you hit the summit makes everything worthwhile. Just imagine getting up in the middle of the night in the pitch-black to drag yourself up a mountain and then, as you hit the summit, nature greets you with a small, blood-red fireball sparkling between the mountain peaks: priceless. If that were not enough, you get to enjoy a breath-taking 360° panorama of the Dolomites bathed in the most beautiful hues. Aesthetics aside, this is a special moment one can hardly put into words or describe. You simply have to experience it for yourself. One thing is certain, though: it’s a feeling you’ll never forget.
  1. Arguably the most beautiful breakfast in the world
This I know for sure: nothing beats a hearty breakfast at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. Granted, for at least half of the hike up, all I can think of is the hot tea and the sandwich that I have laboriously carried with me in my backpack for the last few hours. To be more authentic, though, I should have packed bacon, flatbread, and home-made schnapps for a real South Tyrol mountaintop breakfast 🙂
  1. Shared experience with friends
Such unique moments become even more beautiful when sharing them with others. The strenuous effort becomes more bearable, encouragement from the others keeps you motivated, and the memory of this shared experience is bound to last a lifetime. And yet, there is something you should never forget: everyone needs to set their own pace. If you let the real athletes drive you, you might find out halfway up that you’re out of breath and energy.
  1. Downhill satisfaction
It may sound mischievous, but there’s nothing more satisfying as you head back down, running into hikers struggling to make their way uphill. This feeling of knowing that the experience and effort are behind you adds an extra bit of cheer and pride when you give them an encouraging greeting.
Now, if you would also like to experience the mountain sunrise, check out the details below about the route to the Peitlerkofel:
This is what you need:
  • The time of the sunrise, so you start in good time.
  • Headlamp, as the first section is completed in the dark
  • Warm and ample clothing to change into as you hit the summit, which is usually quite cold and windy.
  • Gloves and cap (for safety)
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Muesli bars to keep your energy level up on the way (my tip: dried figs)
  • A feast for the summit (anything your heart desires that can fit in your backpack)
And the most important thing: a good mood and good company 🙂 Have fun and enjoy!