The article below appeared in the Swiss news magazine "Facts" in August 2003

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"Facts" is a Swiss German language weekly news magazine


English Translation of the article


PROUD MEMORIES: Photos from the Websites of the courageous Alpine conquerors from  foreign countries. 

WWW: Wild world of the wanderer 

Encounters with the unexpected: If the foreigner  survives the Swiss Alpine Pass Route , he spreads the experience of his exertions on the Internet. 

By Thomas Widmer 

The ascent from Attinghausen of the Surenenpass takes hours, the column of walkers spreads out, the straggler with the grey beard is affected by the heat. With a triumphant voice he answers the question about his group: "We are  the Seattle Mountaineers." 

It is remarkable  how many Americans, Australians and English  walk the Alpine Pass Route every summer from Sargans to Montreux. The "Swiss Way" is just so "spectacular", says the "Mountaineer". His goal on this day is Engelberg, but for two weeks he is on the way with his friends across Switzerland . 

Those who  complete the monumental distance over 19 passes, want  to communicate this  to the world; the Internet allows this. Therefore - usually in English - the Alpine Pass Websites blossom including tips on backpack weight reduction, warnings of early closing times, and of the propensity of the farmers to use barbed-wire.

A "guru", who completed the 18,000 high metres of ascent, the British Ken Baldry, one of the pass veterans with his own Website, said, "I get many questions by email". 

Their joys and sufferings are particularly impressively described by Stephen and Fran Rabone from the northern English town of Middlesbrough. On the Foopass it poured as if out of a bucket, reads part of their Website: "The water came over the top of our boots and at one stream up to our knees" On the Urnerboden a hotel WC inspired: "We gave four stars to the toilet." On the Klausenpass the fire ladder irritated "The fire escape was a knotted length of rope secured to a big hook in the ceiling! " On the Jochpass the mass tourism shocked: "A jumble and tangle of hotels and cablecars". And on the Hohtürli near Kandersteg  the pair met a native walker: , "She told us, that it was a  favourite path of the Swiss President, who like to bring important visitors and the press up here." 

The Websites shows Switzerland from unusual angle - and they provoke questions. From the Rabone's Site a visitor wants to know, if he will find kosher food in the mountains . A woman inquires whether it is safe to walk as a single female. Another Alpine novice asks whether it is necessary to learn how to use trekking poles. 

All theory. In practice each day one only  wants to reach the evening. The British Nigel Fenn arrived at the  Hahnenmoospass so exhausted that a farmer gave him a glass of milk. Still worse was  his compatriot Baldry who wrote: "I was so exhausted when I checked in at the 'Goldene Schlussel' I fainted in the shower." 

At the end it is nevertheless overwhelmingly  positive. "The people, who one meets above, are just the nicest of people", said  the American Website operator Dwight Peck when FACTS inquired. 

Some walkers make observations about foreign differences . "Ruhetag is a German word, which you will become familiar with should you walk the APR." say the Rabones, who found their hotel locked in Linthal.

The duo adapted quickly , when they stepped over  the language border between Gsteig and the Col of the Mosses : "We stopped greeting people with Grussa and began to say Bonjour."

Travel improves the mind

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