The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) has registered 150,000 members – a record for the club founded in 1863, thanks to the growing interest in hiking, ski touring and other mountain sports.
The SAC is now the fourth biggest sports association in Switzerland, behind football, gymnastics and tennis, and membership continues to increase.
“150,000 is a record number. Growth is around 2-4% a year,” SAC managing director Jerun Vils told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Tuesday.
Vils said SAC members particularly appreciate the club’s environmental work and special offers for mountain tours and reasonably priced mountain huts.
The club has benefited enormously from the recent boom in outdoor mountain sports, such as hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking and ski touring.
“There is a trend to go back to nature, to the mountains. It’s got something to do with so-called Swissness and being healthy,” said Vils.
While only 25% of the Swiss population hiked regularly in 2000, today the figure is 44%, according to a recent study, which cited the umbrella organisation for Swiss hiking groups. The increase is particularly noticeable among families and couples aged 30-45. Hikers hit the road for about three hours on average, and typically do about 20 hikes a year.