The plan was to gaze upon the Matterhorn and go hiking in the clear mountain air. And for me at least, to find, see and appreciate Lammergeirs. The plan was comprehensively actioned with Lammergeir on the first day and everyday thereafter, and the Matterhorn was also seen daily - not necessarily always a given! Here is an atmospheric shot of a small portion of the mountain for instance, and I'm led to understand that we could have gone a whole week and not even seen this much.
Somehow my terrible fitness levels did not hold the team back - my fellow fatty Andy (sorry Andy...) and I were able to keep our own pace whilst Charlie and the others went a little faster. This is always hard as by the time I caught up they had had a rest and were ready to crack on! For the most part we all stuck together, barring one day where Andy and I took a direct route to a beer rather than schlep halfway towards the Matterhorn base camp.
What a mountain, it has to be said. It is simply glorious. Iconic and engrained in the psyche in many ways. Even if you have never been there you know it, or know of it. Caran d'ache pencils, Toblerone bars, Disneyland.... Our hotel rooms faced it (by design, naturally) and so each morning we awoke to its immense presence. One morning it was completely clear, and fortunately I had set my alarm. Other times it had a bank of cloud on one side. Different each time you looked it.
|The ridge to the right of the cloud is the typical ascent. We didn't attempt it...|
We spent the four days hiking, eating, drinking and being alternately silly and having grown-up conversations. The five of us had six kids with another on the way, and all in our early forties with all of the things that age brings meant we had a lot to discuss. If our carefree days at Royal Holloway seemed a long time ago it is because they were!
Anyway, wonderful hiking, great company, and stupendous views were the order of the day. Nutcrackers were everywhere, and on one day I picked out a pair of Golden Eagles high up along a ridge. The scent of pine, mile upon mile of visibility and blue skies, birds calling and weissbier. I have been on few holidays quite as enjoyable.