Switzerland is a perfect place for those who love adventures and mountainous challenges. And Crans-Montana region, so where I am today, is famous of its beautiful tracks.
I’ve done a few tracks already, even one that was going straight above an abyss without any railing (you can read about this HERE)!
I’ve kept Plaine Morte glacier for dessert – it is 3000 meters high (above the sea level) and is one of the biggest in the country. I think that visiting glaciers in various parts of the world could become my hobby.
It’s going to be my second glaciers, after Perito Moreno in Argentina. If you haven’t read the story about the first glacier I visited, take a look HERE.
I’ve always thought of myself as of a girl that is into sunny climate and he roar of the ocean. Well, at least here nothing changed and one of my dreams is to have a small house somewhere at a stormy ocean. However, in the course of time I’ve got fascinated by the severity of mountainous peaks, their inaccessibility and that nothing is just given there, you have to earn every view.
And probably only mountain glaciers and their majesty is what charms me more than the mountains themselves.
Plaine Morte, with its meaningful name that could be translated as “just dead”, is an exceptional place, because except the ice-bound space you can see much more – the Rhône valley, the side valleys in Wallis canton and up, up above also the Alpine peaks, stretching in a line along the southern side, from Mischabel through Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. Saying that this view is spectacular it’s not enough.
Depending on the season, you can reach the glacier edges with a guide but climbing the nearby peaks and watching it from above is absolutely fantastic. And this was my goal, because I wanted to see this wonder of nature from above, not like the Argentinian Perito Moreno, from the eye level.
Plaine Morte – paradise for active travelers
The Crans-Montana resort is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It is comprised of 160 kilometers of different difficulty pistes. The whole place has few floors and the highest “level” is the Plaine Morte glacier.
You can reach it without problem with a gondola lift or Funitel railway, that is cable railway that begins at the Cabane des Violettes (Montana-Crans) hostel. You have to remember though that the operating hours are set tight and the last car comes down at around 3 PM.
In 1911 in Montana the first ski competition took place, in which only 10 contestants took part. They set off into the mountains with their skis on their shoulders and after six hours of march they spent a night in a mountain cottage. The next day, on a given signal they started and they all begun schuss down the mountain. Cecil Hopkinson was the winner. His downhill lasted 61 minutes, from Plaine Morte to Montana. His achievement turned out to be groundbreaking and it revolutionized the global history of winter sports.
Looking down at the valley from the glacier, you really admire and respect the courage and bravado of these skiers. Let’s be frank – you need to have nerves of steel and almost limitless fear borders to try to ski down from this height.
The must haves of every mountaineer
In this moment I focus on climbing up, not skiing down but who knows, everything might happen! J
The tracks in Switzerland, both in lower parts and right at the glacier, are really well prepared and marked. However, the mountains taught me that I shall always – no matter how difficult and long the tracks is or how well developed the country is – to have my mountaineer’s must have. Depending on the place and season it varies with few little details (usually the thickness of clothes) but there are a few of good old and proven items I always take with me on every trip. In the mountains I first of all want stuff to be compact and multi-role, so I try to make every item useful for few different tasks and therefore more versatile. Therefore I only carry on my back what is indeed necessary.
This is of course a result of my job and that I always have a camera with me. I add an extra batter too (I was once surprised as the battery died out on me in the moment when it totally shouldn’t, I learned my lesson and I never leave without an additional, full battery). If the situation allows that, I choose one camera lens with a large picture angle, therefore I don’t have to carry a lot of them. My most proven camera lens for now is the 40-150 mm.
Because smartphones are now small, portable computers and have almost everything in them – from GPS, maps, camera for recording films and the ability to contact the world (in Switzerland the range coverage is absolutely 100%, even in high mountains), so power bank is an absolute must. I recommend you to buy the one that has a large capacity. Otherwise it wouldn’t help a lot and the fact that you saved few bucks wouldn’t keep your phone alive out in there.
I always have a copy of the most important documents. Depending on the country it’s either passport or within EU borders – ID card. It’s worth to have also a copy of your insurance too. If you regularly take some kind of medicine or you are allergic to something, throw in a note with info to the other papers. In case of emergency these basic data would help the rescue team a lot.
In the mountains and during trips everything can happen but on the other hand it’s not possible to carry a whole orderly bag with you. You need only a few basic and most versatile drugs. I always have a broad-spectrum painkiller (like aspirin but be careful with that stuff in mountains, it thins the blood and at high altitude it’s not commendable, it might lead to hemorrhages), food poisoning medication (preferably one with antibiotic, those work really fast), plasters for any sores, scratches and an antibacterial disinfectant. The proven agent is Octenisept – small spray with a broad spectrum, which is especially important in travel. It is bactericidal, fungicidal and viricidal. I use it at every sore, scratch and cuts, which of course are easy to get in every trip. Moreover, if you have sensitive skin, susceptible to irritation skin or you are at risk of burns, like staying long in the sun, you can use this spray too to mitigate the symptoms. And, from a woman’s point of view, this spray is useful, because it heals also various intimate infections, which during travel, especially if you change climate a lot, in various hygienic conditions and with various qualities of water, are something that you have to combat every day. So this is a special task secret weapon.
Switzerland without Swiss Army knife? No way! :) Such knife with few additional elements (like for instance can opener) is an absolute must-have at every trip. You don’t even know how many times it saved my butt – from the possibility to make a simple sandwich (so important!) to cutting a rope.
I never go out without them, no matter where I go. Proper hand hygiene is the most important and most effective barrier against lots of infectious diseases. On the market there are lots of various liquids, hankies and gels, which have a high concentration of alcohol and let you clean your hands without using water. In the mountains, especially during long trekkings, when you can’t wash your hands properly, such a small bottle of gel is especially useful.
Trivial thing but so often forgotten. They are versatile and they always come handy during mountain hikes. Just remember never to leave the used tissues in the mountains – you shall shove them into your backpack and throw them on the scrap-heap when possible. It might seem that a one tissue would not make a difference and it ends up like in Nepal, where the touristic tracks are literally buried in a river of waste, because everyone thought that “one piece of trash would not make a difference”. We shall take care of the nature, it’s the only nature we have and will ever have!
HIGH ENERGY SNACKS
Even if I plan a short, only few-hours trekking, I always have a snack with me. It happened before that something that should have lasted 2 or 3 hours extended to 10 hours – because change of the plans, because the track got lots, because the weather, etc. etc. To get stuck in mountains without food… well, that’s the worst you can do to yourself. I always choose small but highly nutritious snacks – bars, chocolate, gels with electrolytes. Something that is easily absorbed by your organism and that would give you an immediate surge of energy to continue your trekking.
And now I dash away to enjoy the last evening in Switzerland, with the view on mountains, raising the glass of local Pinot Noir :)
See you next time, travelers!