Swiss 4000m peaks

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"Expedition Report" (Rhys on a 1:1 Swiss 4000ers course)

As promised, we now set out below a full expedition report of the Williams-Velic exploration of wildest, most savage Switzerland. We trod where no walrus has trodden before. And, we wager, where no walrus will tread again.

Given that our expedition was one of unexplored lands, there were no local guides to assist us on our intrepid path. Instead, we appointed a guide from Slovakia, on the basis that Slovakia and Switzerland both start with an "S". We chose Slovakia because, like Switzerland, it has mountains, and we were unable to find a guide from Swaziland.

On 17 July, we set off to climb Weissmeis, a mountain of 3167m according to my trusty altimeter. Our guide, Monsieur Velic, forgot to bring any mountaineering boots, leading some to wonder whether or not he had actually climbed any mountains in the past. We hired some boots for M. Velic, however, after which he performed admirably. Our own lead climber, Monsieur Williams, demonstrated a range of his most noted technical skills in the high mountains, with some much-admired dry heaving before he finally produced some of the contents of his stomach.

We camped that night in the enchanting hamlet of Zermatt (altitude 3167m) and set off the next day in order to climb the fearsome Breithorn Half Traverse (3167m). In order to set ourselves apart from our guide, and to emphasize the seriousness of the undertaking, we decided to climb in full evening dress. Our decision to start each day fashionably late was already beginning to produce tremendous benefits, as we had the mountains pretty much to ourselves, although the resulting melted snow made the climbing somewhat challenging and the dash back to catch the final cable car led to at least half the team (M. Williams) throwing up again.

On 19 July, we made the first ascent of a new route up the Riffelhorn (3167m), the highest mountain in the region, if our calculations are correct. A lot of nonsense has been written about the difficulty of some of the climbs on this fine mountain. We, however, were able to find a route that is not listed in any of the guidebooks. To the uninitiated, it might appear that the route was almost a staircase with barely the need to use one's hands, but that merely reflects the balance, poise, and technique of our climbers. To make something so difficult look so easy is high art indeed. We named the route "The Williams-Velic Directissimo" and gave it a grade of 5.39++, although we seriously doubt that anyone else will ever attempt it. Life is simply too precious.

On 20 July, we climbed the previously unclimbed (so far as we could tell, other than the other people on the summit) Allalinhorn (3167m). By this stage in the expedition, many members of the team were actually becoming acclimatised, thus reducing the number of comedy stops, falls and heaves. This was generally agreed to be a shameful day for everyone, and we had little option but to terminate the expedition immediately.

We would like to record our thanks to our numerous supporters and sponsors, including the ladies of Madame Fifi's Massage Parlour for their enthusiastic hands-on support, and Icy-Cold Mountain Beering, for recommending M. Velic to us in the first place.

Now that we have made the initial explorations into this untamed land, we have no doubt that others, less brave perhaps, but no less admirable in their own way, will follow. We confidently predict that other mountains in this range will soon be climbed. We humbly trust that posterity will view our small undertaking with undiluted praise and exaggerated honour..

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