Switzerland

Nestled in the heart of Western Europe and surrounded by an awe-inspiring mountain landscape, Switzerland is the ultimate embodiment of alpine environment and culture.

At 41,285 square kilometres this serene confederacy, while geographically small, manages to encompass some of the most visually spectacular alpine scenery on Earth. From the Central Plateau and Jura Mountains to the west, the Swiss Alps to the south and the mesmerizing Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage site to the east, Switzerland is without doubt a powerful illustration of nature’s artistic tendencies.

 
 

Why Switzerland?

Switzerland’s rugged mountain landscapes, rich alpine history (inventor of the bobsleigh, by the way) and position as a mixing channel of German, French and Italian cultures makes it a must-experience bucket-list destination for any alpine minded adventurer. Uncovering the geographic and cultural wonders of this elevated utopia may even shed some light on the essence of its relatively peaceful history.

The View

With more than 200 enormous glacier-capped mountains that stretch over 3,000 metres high, sprawling emerald green plateaus, rustic alpine villages and sparkling azure lakes, you can be certain that almost anywhere you go in Switzerland will be visually impressive.

 

Our team will be departing from Montreal and Vancouver on Edelweiss Airlines. For this expedition we’ve decided that trekking with some running is the most dramatic way to illustrate Switzerland’s stunning alpine beauty—that way too we’ll have all the time we need to explore the intricacies, mysteries and allure of the mountain culture in this amazing part of the planet.  

 

The Team

Switzerland Team

MEC Gear Spotlight

Farpoiunt Jacket

Super-lightweight Soft Shell

Being able to move fast while staying protected from the elements is an important consideration for any adventure and having a jacket that helps with both the wind and the rain is a must. Whether running, climbing, hiking, biking or skiing, it is a great addition to your layering. Super light-weight and breathable the MEC Farpoint Jacket protects against light rain and cool winds; a great option for any adventure.

Pictured: Farpoint Shell Jacket
From the MEC Jacket Collection

MEC AlpineLite 35 backpack

Streamline Alpine Pack

The View From Here expeditions have brought me to some pretty incredible places and awarded me spectacular views. The views don’t always come easy and working hard for them is part of the journey. Helping me get there has been the MEC AlpineLite 35 backpack. As a medium sized pack it offers enough space to pack for almost any day adventure and even lite overnight trips. The back panel, hip belt and lid can all be removed, making it an even lighter pack when the situation calls for it. It has dual ice-axe holders, a hydration pocket, daisy chains and a floating lid with two zippered pockets, which makes it one the most versatile packs on the market.

Pictured: AlpineLite 35 Backpack
From the MEC Backpack Collection

MEC Kestrel Shirt

Performance Wicking

Working hard while playing in the outdoors is one of life’s greatest joys and doing so while staying comfortable is always a bonus. The MEC Kestrel Short and Long-sleeve do exactly that, they function as an effective layer for hiking, climbing and even walking in town. The MEC Kestrel shirts are quick drying and comfortable making it easy to go from hard working trails to casual dinners in town. Made with a combination of wool and spandex they are designed for performance.

Pictured: Kestrel T Shirt
From the MEC T Shirt Collection

Toad&Co Mission Ridge Pant

Built for Adventure

Traveling through Switzerland can often mean going from high alpine mountain towns to 12th century cobblestoned streets in the same day. Being able to transition between those two different environments makes what can often be cumbersome travel into comfortable travel. The Mission Ridge pantsare perfect for doing exactly that; going from mountain village to urban center. Made with organic cotton, polyester and spandex they are comfortable, durable and easy to move in. Built for traveling, these are a great addition to any trip. 

Pictured: Mission Ridge Pants
From the MEC Pants Collection

Gear List

Our travels through Switzerland will require us to hike, trek, run and explore to fully experience the country's alpine beauty. As always, since quality, durability and ease of use is a primary consideration for this project we will be using MEC as our supplier of choice.

Apparel

Toad&Co Tops

Toad&Co Bottoms

Baselayer

Pants

Midlayer

Jacket

Equipment

Tents

Sleepingbags

Cookwear

Packs

Trekking Poles

Trail Running Shoes

Health

Aid

Survival

Water

Sun

Sanitation

Emergency

Nutrition

CLIF Bars

Meals

Filters

Beverages

 

 

Switzerland Expedition Map

Map of Switzerland

Dispatches From Switzerland

Mountain Pilgrimage Mountain Pilgrimage

There is no better way for me to travel to Europe than to make a pilgrimage to its majestic mountains and, as is the case with many life experiences, for the trip to be the manifestation of wholly unpredictable circumstances that remind me that life is best lived unplanned.

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Destination Zermatt Destination Zermatt

The last 24 hours since arriving in Switzerland have been remarkable. All 24 of them. It began with a scenic train ride from Zurich toward the border with Italy. Arriving at the southern end of the Mattertal Valley, we were greeted by the town of Zermatt and that great horn of rock known the world over as the Matterhorn.

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Alpinism's Golden Age Alpinism's Golden Age

Much like the Vedas call the devout to the shores of the Ganges River and the Quran inspires Hajj to Mecca, the European Alps encourage, if not demand, even the least pious of mountain enthusiasts to make a pilgrimage to the hallowed mountains.

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Anniversary of the First Ascent The First Ascent

On the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn (4478m), there has been much celebrating in the streets of Zermatt. There has also been a more somber commemoration of the four climbers who died on the descent of that famous climb back in 1865.

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Alpinist Shangri-La Alpinist Shangri-La

I had heard rumours of such an alpinist’s Shangri-La, especially from my brother who works as a guide in the Alps. Being able to experience this “Euro-style” ease of access is incredible, and explains why alpinism is as commonplace as it is in Europe, especially in the region of Zermatt, Switzerland.

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Grindelwald Grindelwald

We get our first taste of Grindelwald’s “playground” reputation, when we hike through the Glacier Gorge (Gletscherschlucht), which not so long ago was covered by a mass of ice.

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Switzerland is Breathtaking Take My Breath Away

Certainly one of the most poignant first impressions has been the mountains themselves. Imposingly tall and balefully glaciated, the Alps make it impossible for any first-time visitor to leave without having had at least three take-your-breath-away moments.

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Jungfraujoch and Eiger Ultra Trail Jungfraujoch and Eiger Ultra

We get our first taste of Grindelwald’s “playground” reputation, when we hike through the Glacier Gorge (Gletscherschlucht), which not so long ago was covered by a mass of ice.

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Matterhorn Matterhorn

As the birth place of modern mountaineering and the driving force behind a prolifically successful tourist industry, the mountain continues to be revered by those who climb it and by those who choose to stare up in awe at it. 

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Schynige Platte to Bern Schynige Platte to Bern

To get a different perspective on the region, we took a two hour boat ride across Lake Thun. It was a welcome respite from our ambitious schedule in the mountains, and I found myself sitting back a long while taking in the views.

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Swiss Sustainability Swiss Sustainability

Confident in their purpose as protectors of this high-altitude oasis, Zermatt locals (Zermattians as I would dare to call them) live, breathe and thrive off of the Matterhorn. Their candid love of the mountain has also led to a community that thrives off of tourism and shines as an incredible example of how to develop mountain based tourism.

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Zurich Zurich

Zurich certainly isn’t the biggest city in Europe, but, in my mind, it’s bold, beautiful, and feisty. It’s a city with plenty of history, stretching back thousands of years, and there’s lots of old architecture to satisfy history buffs—as well as great lens candy for photographers.

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Eiger Eiger

Today I stood face-to-face with a giant. Not any old run-of-the-mill giant, you know ugly and brutish, but rather a beautifully intimidating sky scraping limestone colossus; an ogre by any other name. This giant, of course, is the north face of the Eiger. Fewer rock faces in this world are as famous, or as notorious, as that of the Eiger.

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Bernese Oberland Bernese Oberland

Between these two valleys within the Bernese Oberland region there is so much beauty, so much majesty in nature’s splendor that it imposes an impression upon me that seems likely to last a lifetime.

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Lauterbrunnen Lauterbrunnen

As far as what I have experienced in Switzerland thus far, this valley is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have seen and is one of the most beautiful places I have visited on this earth.  

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A Swiss Visual Masterpiece A Swiss Visual Masterpiece

 The sun rises higher in the sky and the fog trapped in the valley floor lifts. The valleys begin to catch morning light and the bucolic scene of Swiss pastoral life is made obvious.

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Swiss Bridge Jump and Float Swiss Bridge Jump and Float

 The sun rises higher in the sky and the fog trapped in the valley floor lifts. The valleys begin to catch morning light and the bucolic scene of Swiss pastoral life is made obvious.

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Love Switzerland Love Switzerland

The beauty has been too splendid and the people too welcoming for me not to come back to this wonderful country. Even the food has left the foretold taste of nostalgia and the memory of surprise. It is safe to say that I have fallen in love with Switzerland.

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