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Sunrise on the Summit

The sun rising over the 7000ft summit in the Austrian Tirol is a magical memory that will last Clive Nicholls a lifetime

It'still dark when I arrive at the cable car station, but by the time the gondola has whisked me up to its final stop at 6000ft (1850m), the sky has already started to lighten.

I need to press on: I’ve got about a mile to walk and 1000ft (300m) to climb before I’m where I need to be. It’s hard not to keep stopping to take pictures, but I’m on a deadline – I want to be at the summit. I make it just in time.

Looking to the east, the wild Emperor Mountain range releases the dawn sun and its first rays dash across the valleys and hit me with a warm and wondrous light.

The summit of the 7000ft (2128m) Wiedersberger Horn lights up like a beacon. It’s crowded up here. Not crowded like a London tube in rush hour but pretty crowded for a mountaintop. There must be 50 to 60 people – oh, and a couple of Labradors, who like me, have got up early to see the sun rise over the Alps.

It is a special moment. Couples are hugging, most are taking pictures, some are enjoying time for reflection. It is so, so worth the early start and a memory that I’ll cherish for years to come.

Some went down soon after the sun cleared the distant range but I think they were locals who had to get to work. I stayed a bit longer before walking down the other side of the mountain to the top of the cable car station. Breakfast calls.

Scrambled egg mixed with chopped bacon and onion, topped off with cheese and ham rolls at the café 6000ft up in the Alps… perfect.

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