I’m a mountain man through and through, though I was born in the flatlands. After many years of working in the mountains (the Alps, British Columbia, and Japan), we moved to Valais Central, Switzerland. We’re close to many of the famous 4000m Alpine peaks, a real mecca for alpinists and ski mountaineers. I’m a competitive ski mountaineer, take part in short and long-distance events, and in the summer spend leisure time on my road bike, running and climbing. The rest of the family are also big ski fans, with my wife being a recent convert to ski mountaineering.
“Why bother hiking all the way to the top when there are ski resorts with lifts?” is a question I’m often asked. The difficulty in answering this question is that words can’t do ski mountaineering justice: you really need to experience it first hand to understand. Plus of course, under human power you can access some of the most amazing summits and slopes. Helicopter skiing is (thankfully) heavily restricted here for environmental reasons, and so often the best conditions up high occur well after the ski lifts have closed. Ski mountaineering/touring has seen a huge boom over the past 5 years or so, and if you’re ever out in the Swiss Alps in the winter or spring, you’ll almost certainly see groups of people setting off up the slopes under their own steam.
I’m a relative newcomer to mountaineering and climbing, but love getting away from it all on slopes which are stretching both physically and mentally.