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Alpine trek relives golden age of climbing

A weary Alps Walk team braved temperatures of 30 degrees during the 1,200 metre ascent to Riederalp


A group of seven Swiss and British mountaineers, dressed in 19th century climbing gear, have set off on a 10-day expedition across some of the most spectacular areas of the Swiss Alps.

The aim of the expedition, which can be followed every day on swissinfo, is to trace the history and development of mountaineering as well as changes to the natural environment over the past century.

Dressed in period costume, the party of climbers and accompanying guides begin their journey at the Villa Cassel, a remnant of the Belle Epoque, overlooking the Aletsch Glacier.

The group will be walking for an average of eight hours a day, climbing 4,000-metre-high peaks and spending nights in mountain huts.

A tight daily schedule means the party must be up by 0400 every morning to begin a long day of walking.

"We will walk and climb between seven and 12 hours each day," said Dale Bechtel, swissinfo travel editor and project leader.

"The goal, as often as possible, is to avoid being on the snow in the afternoon when it becomes heavy and wet, which makes it more difficult to walk through."

Guides with experience

The climbers and guides were all selected because of their proven track records as mountaineers. Each has an in-depth knowledge of the region and all share a passion and enthusiasm for the Swiss Alps.

As in the 19th century, it will be the guides who take the final decision on route planning.

Their expert knowledge of the region means none of the group will be carrying maps, though an interactive route guide will be available on-line for anyone wishing to plot the group's movement across the Alps.

swissinfo will follow the expedition's progress with daily reports and videos, while an on-line forum will enable visitors to question the climbers and guides as they make their way towards the resort of Interlaken, where the expedition will be brought to a formal end on September 4.


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