The Call Of The Mountains

Lately, I’ve been finding myself drawn to mountains. Coming from the county of Kent where the highest point reaches a heady 251m above sea level I’m not a natural mountaineer but I can’t help being in awe of the wild splendor and rawness of mountainous areas.

Last summer I popped over to Switzerland with my friend Bob to do some walking in the Alps. We’re both reasonably experienced at this and that – Bob’s even a qualified Mountain Leader (but that was back in the days when tweed and hob-nailed boots were de rigor so maybe it doesn’t count anymore!).

I planned an exciting week. Possibly a little too exciting as it quickly became apparent that neither of us was quite as fit as we’d like to think.

The first day was tough. The distance was no problem but over 1500m of ascent, high temperatures, and just not being used to the bit of extra altitude saw it turn from a cheery start into a real slog.

However, we lived to tell the tale and reached our objective – the Schönbielhütte. A mountain hut, staffed in the cross-country ski and Alpine climbing and trekking season, Schönbielhütte sits just above the lateral moraine of the Zmutt glacier, which seems like just a snowballs throw away from the Matterhorn and Dent d’Hérens.

With probably half of the 80 dormitory places occupied by a rag-tag mixture of mountaineers, climbers, hikers, and the two slightly bedraggled English guys it wasn’t too crowded. Although later than we expected we managed to catch dinner.

After a few hours of sleep punctuated by the snoring, and worse, of a room full of French climbers (and Bob) the alarms started peeping in the half-light, and before we knew it all the climbing and mountaineering types were up and off.

We took a slightly more leisurely approach and had time for some photos before setting off back to Zermatt for a bit of a sit-down!

Staying at a mountain hut or cabin is something I’d heartily recommend. You’ll get a whole new perspective on the landscape as the huts tend to be placed in the thick of things for easy access (easy access to the mountains – access to the hut is usually less easy!).

You’ll get a whole new perspective on mountain folk if you’re not a climber or mountaineer. It’s a whole new world and quite an interesting one.