Suisse Voyage, 2014

05 Sep.right

All the Pictures

I've whittled down the pictures i took my (8 MP) cameraphone to about 400, and they're here with captions.

Mirabelka took a lot too, and with a much better camera. (And she's a much better photographer and editor.)

Planning, Getting There

Suisse trail signpost Mirabelka and i went to Switzerland for about 10 days: 5 - 15 September. I'd never been to Switzerland before, and it had been near the top of the list of places i wanted to visit. (Perhaps i should say high on my "list of mountains i want to visit" -- mountains are my favorite places, and there are still many mountains ranges i've never even gotten close to.)

I did a lot of planning for this trip -- more than any other -- but it was not enough. (At least for the first visit.) The "problem" with Switzerland is the staggering number of choices of trails, accommodation, etc.. Buying one of those package deals would eliminating most of the planning, but there were issues with those:

  1. They're not cheap.
  2. The lodging they arrange seems to be entirely in hotels (in valleys), and when i looked at the maps, it seemed like it should be possible to mostly stay in mountain huts ("cabanes") and therefore mostly in the mountains, avoiding a lot of "extra" up and down, as well. Staying up in the mountains also changes the "tone" of the vacation, making it a "living in the mountains," rather than "staying in hotels and visiting the mountains each day."
  3. I'm (at times) contrarian and organisation-averse, so the idea of being bundled into a group of people going to pre-arranged destinations that someone else picks is... repugnant.
  4. They transport your luggage on the bus, which seems like cheating.

With the SchweizMobil mapping site i explored many routes, and eventually came up with a tour around part of Valais, a predominantly French-speaking canton in the Southwest corner of Switzerland, sharing a long border with Italy, and bit with France. As our flight was into Geneva, starting in Valais minimised the (train) travel to the mountains. Valais contains nearly all of the fairly well-know Haute Route. I looked at Steph Abegg's Haute Route trip reports a lot.

I made a spreadsheet with the hiking times of routes between desirable destinations. It has several pages (tabs), but eventually we settled on the one entitled "Chanrion - s3." At the time i thought some of the days might be kind of long with full packs, but i just didn't have enough time to plan a good route that had no single day of walking over four hours. (Plus we figured we could change the route once we got there, if needed.)

Full Packs

johan next to backpack, looking at GPS If you've done much hiking in Switzerland, you are probably saying to yourself, "Why would you carry a full pack?" Which is a very good question to ask yourself when you are sitting on the sofa thinking about your holiday, not when you are already in the mountains, negotiating a boulder-y trail with about 20 kg (> 40 lbs) on your back

My line of reasoning had gone something like this:

That in mind, i figured it'd be best to carry food, and as Switzerland has a reputation for being quite expensive and availability of (mostly)-vegan food in small mountain villages seemed dubious, it seemed a good idea to bring nearly everything we would need from the UK. And not wanting to eat cold food for nearly two weeks, we also brought a camping stove and pans.

We made a few other "heavy" choices, but at least we didn't bring the tent. (In Switzerland, camping is only permitted in a few (commercial?) campgrounds, so it didn't seem like it'd be useful, except in an emergency.)

The inventory was something like:

Clothing - johan

Electronic Gadgets

(And a few other things i'm forgetting.)

05 Sep.right