John Harlin III: Hiking, biking, climbing and kayaking around Switzerland’s borders in three months

Bern, June 22, 2010 – All around Switzerland, a distance of 1,900 kilometres, in three months using muscle power alone: US-based mountaineer and journalist John Harlin begins his tour of Switzerland’s borders at St Gingolph in canton Valais on June 23. He will be posting reports, pictures and videos daily on

This content was published on June 22, 2010 - 15:37

John Harlin III has set himself no small challenge: he intends to follow the entire length of Switzerland’s borders – almost 1,900 kilometres – on foot, by bike and kayaking in around three months.

“Besides my desire to explore so much of Switzerland’s beauty and culture, I have long craved a long expedition-style adventure with a clear goal that has meaning. To me, the ability to circle an entire country as rugged as Switzerland in three months’ time gives a beautiful focus to a great physical adventure,” says Harlin, summing up the motivation behind this endeavour.

Harlin will begin his tour on June 23 in St Gingolph on the southern shore of Lake Geneva, right on the Swiss-French border, travelling counter-clockwise around the country. During his three-month trip, Harlin will receive logistical support from Switzerland Tourism. His reports, pictures and videos will appear exclusively on the English-language pages of several times a day from June 23.

Harlin’s route and current location can be tracked online at any time courtesy of the Swiss Google Maps site. Also available will be a variety of background reports, dossiers on specific topics and collections of links about Switzerland. Harlin’s Twitter updates will also be translated into German, French, Italian and Japanese.

Harlin believes the biggest challenge on this three-month journey will be tackling a number of peaks over 4,000 metres high as well as difficult climbs such as the Aiguilles Rouges du Mont Dolent, the Matterhorn’s Furggen-Grat and the Piz Badile. He will have to ascend and descend thousands of metres through inhospitable territory with no marked paths. While he’s out there, Harlin plans to meet fellow alpinists, scientists, historians and others (maybe even you) to hear stories and paint a meticulous and nuanced picture of the country based on the geographical, political and cultural threads that hold it together.

John Harlin III was born in 1956 and grew up in Germany and Leysin. After his father died on the north face of the Eiger, his family returned to the US, where he graduated in Environmental Biology from the University of California. In addition to his climbing activities, he now works as a journalist and publishes the American Alpine Journal.


Monika Gysin
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