Dwight Peck's personal website
"Swiss Alpine Pass Route"
holidays -- time to put your feet up and dig out a pile of automobile magazines
and line up a few gin and tonics on the little collapsible tin table on the patio.
Time to putter about in the garden, and mow the lawn resentfully if the neighbors
have been complaining about it. Or time to get in on a fun package cruise on one
of those Danish Caribbean floating spas, with shuffleboard, disco in the evenings,
games arranged by a social director, and maybe gambling with a $5 limit. Or time
to hike the Swiss Alpine Pass Route with some friends who are probably in not
much better condition than you are . . .
Like these two -- Prof.
Charles Berman of the USA and Prof. Joe Pirri
(also USA), now of Switzerland and Lebanon -- on Day
2 out of Sargans, in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, heading
for the Foopass
(no kidding) and wishing they'd been doing aerobics or something over the
preceding few months.
slog up from Sargans on the Rhine River valley floor passed, in 1999, through
some serious devastation from avalanche and landslide . . .
. . and lots and lots of rushing water everywhere.
Pirri and Berman contemplating a week on the hoof (and still smiling at this point,
because after a certain age, the uphills are better than the downhills).
Pirri still expects somewhat querulously to see the mighty Foopass
any moment now. Prof Peck tries to sound encouraging.
The narrator watches
in amusement as Dean Pirri tries to keep his boots dry with all of the mountain
creeks way out of their banks and most of the little bridges washed away.
A record amount of snowmelt in the spring of 1999 -- majestic waterfalls where
once there were used car dealerships.
quick spot of lunch at a high mountain farm along the way
3, seeking in vain for the mighty Richetlipass, Sir
Charles finally admits that he hasn't the slightest idea which way to go in the
found a creek, and we'll follow it.
of us on the left of it, some on the right, and one of us in the middle
Photo Pose. The Fog Clears Briefly. Look Behind You, Boys!
Richetlipass in the Swiss canton of Glarus -- as we march dutifully
towards it, it seems to recede. By
late in Day 3, the narrator was in an excellent position (i.e., very far behind)
to get this disspiriting photograph with a telephoto lens . . .
is someone missing? Oh, there he is.
periods of oxygen-free meditation
Richetlipass in the Swiss canton of Glarus
breath once caught, the view from Richetlipass (if real and not hallucinatory)
is worth it. Probably worth it even if hallucinatory.
much for Days 1-3 of the Swiss Alpine Pass Route. There is no law to the
effect that you have to skip X-Files reruns and continue here, but if you
want to, get ready for Day 5.
come on along!
adventure picks up with Day 5, Altdorf to Engelberg over the Surenenpass.
On Day 5, Mr Peck and
former President Pirri try to gain height gracefully, heading for the Surenenpass,
in the canton of Obwalden.
the Surenenpass itsownself gleaming up there in the distance. A lot of distance!
Berman displaying his legendary patience with the slower members of the party
(since they're carrying the food).
Here we come.
slower members of the party
small bits of badly remembered nursery rhymes, many having to do with "the
little engine that could", the party's stragglers strive to stay focused.
is in sight -- or it would be if Drs Peck and Pirri could stop concentrating
just on breathing long enough to look up.
Professor Peck and Present Professor Pirri trudge to the top of the Surenenpass
. . .
. . to be greeted by Professor Berman, who'd been lunching in a leisurely manner
and keeping his camera ready in case the rest of his party should join him in
That's it for Day 5
of the Swiss Alpine Pass Route. Next, we
overlook Dr Pirri's legendary 14 blisters and leap ahead to Day 8.
Scheidegg above Grindelwald.
we've managed to drag our scraggly selves from Sargans, in the east
of Switzerland, over the passes past Altdorf, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg under
the Eiger Nordwand, and finally to the village of Mürren, where no automobiles
Taping up toes in Mürren
Now we're ready for Day 8, the Sefinenfurka, with any luck: to descend
upon Griesalp and go back via the midnight trains to work the next day.
Berman, who never stops smiling even in the worst of times, pauses an
hour or two out of Mürren and points to Day 8's high point, way way . . . way
. . . way . . .up there.
Somewhere above Mürren
Sir Charles at the Rotstock Hütte
along behind, Mr Peck Poses Portentously in front of the North Wall of the Eiger.
Some of us kids never
lose our semi-joyful fascination with looking down upon glaciers. Too bad
the next generation won't get to experience that.
for a while
Not to be distracted
by the splendid views, Mr Peck trudges solemnly upward, with
the turning restaurant of the Schilthorn way up there in the background. Trail
signs all through this region now say "Schilthorn (Piz Gloria)". Do
you want to know why? Because in a late 1950s James Bond novel, Piz Gloria was
the fictional scene of some spyful derring-do, and when Hollywood [actually Pinewood
studios in the UK] shot the movie they used the Schilthorn for the location. Now
when tourists from the four corners of the world arrive in the Mürren-Lauterbrunnen
region of Switzerland, 28.7% of them ask "where is the Schilthorn?",
and 71.3% of them ask "where is Piz Gloria, where James Bond almost fell
all the trail signs tell them where Piz Gloria is.
Charles Berman en route for the mud at the top of the morning.
moment of peace. Like most moments of peace, it has
to be a short one, because one can't stay here on this 30-degree mud slope for
too long without starting to slide back down again.
of bloody Sefinenfurke, why are we doing this? Well, let's wait till we
see the view (if the clouds clear out a bit).
view -- still more clouds. But still, a radical mood
swing! Now that we're here, it almost seems worth it.
the far side of Sefinenfurke, with steps thoughtfully provided for the rainy (muddy)
season . . .
. . which is now.
-- When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Prof. Berman relaxes
briefly in the most astonishingly beautiful scenery that Europe has to offer the
non-casual tourist. Casual tourists
can be steered toward Disneyland-Paris or to "Piz Gloria", the turning
restaurant, via the gondola, where they can relive the James Bond experience,
more or less.
More rushing water. In
8 days' time, we saw more wonderful waterfalls than Switzerland has probably seen
in decades. More landslides, avalanche scars, and general devastation, too, so
all that winter water has probably been a very mixed blessing.
back to work tomorrow?!?
Berman and a complex of waterfalls, reminding him once again why he needs to return
more often to Switzerland.
it for Day 8 of the Swiss Alpine Pass Route. Day 9, over the Höhtürli
to Kandersteg, had been in prospect, but the intrepid hikers ran out of days and
had to get back to civilization. So Former President Pirri and Former Professor
Peck went back in October in a torrential rainstorm and picked up Day 9 (long
after Former Humanities Chairman Berman had returned to the USA), and
you can see that here as well.
route that these gentlemen were following on the Swiss
Alpine Pass Route was outlined by the prolific and always accurate
Kev Reynolds, Alpine Pass Route, Switzerland (Cicerone
Press, 1990). Kev Reynold's route continues for six more days to Montreux on Lac
Léman (Lake Geneva), but since the aforementioned gentlemen have been hiking,
running, and skiing all over that region of Switzerland for a combined 70 years
amongst them, they preferred to focus their intense mental concentration and physical
efforts on only the first half of Kev's route, from Sargans in the east to Kandersteg
in the middle of the country.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 October 1999, revised 4 April
2008, 10 June 2013.