Prior to 2011 I had not been up a mountain, at least not in living memory. But since moving to Switzerland I’ve been captivated by the Alps, Europe’s greatest mountain range. Having an insatiable hunger to experience its great peaks for myself I set out to find its most compelling vistas, with three summits in particular coming to the fore.
You’d only have to speak to my partner Emma to find out how obsessed I had become with seeing these incredible views with my own eyes. None of the experiences could be considered cheap, and all involved a lengthy journey both to the destination and in the mountain ascent. But I strongly believe in making the most of wherever you’re living, you never know when life might take you somewhere different. I wanted to make sure I had no regrets whenever the time came for us to leave Switzerland.
The three summits were probably just about doable as long day trips, but I didn’t think that would give them the time that they deserved. I wanted to savour the experience of being on top of the world. So over the last year as the opportunities came up, we’ve taken a day or two off work and made a long weekend of each location. This meant that we gave ourselves the maximum chance of good weather, and had more time to enjoy being in the mountains.
Rising high above the Swiss mountain town of Zermatt, the Matterhorn’s distinctive shape makes it one of the most famous peaks in the world. Accessible by gondola and aerial cableway from Zermatt you can reach the summit of the Klein Matterhorn – its shorter cousin – for some unbeatable views of the surrounding Alps. What made this one special? It was our first visit to the Swiss Alps and the start of a fantastic road trip over some of the best mountain passes in the world. What more can you ask for?!
Perhaps upstaged by its famous neighbour the Eiger, the Jungfrau sits among what I consider to be the most stunning alpine area of Switzerland – the Bernese Oberland. The epic journey to the summit is what makes this trip a marvel. Two and a half hours on multiple trains from the town of Interlaken, through Grindelwald and Kleine Scheidegg before reaching the final push to the summit – the Jungfraubahn, a train that passes 7km through a tunnel forged into the mountains between 1896 and 1912. The views of the Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the the Alps, are simply sublime.
Famed for dragon myths dating back to medieval times, Mount Pilatus has a mysterious quality that I didn’t feel at the Matterhorn or the Jungfraujoch. Rising high above Lucerne and its beautiful namesake lake, the summit offers incredible views of what must be one of the most unique landscapes in the Alps. Because it stands alone and is higher than all of the surrounding area you really get a fantastic unobstructed view in every direction. It’s unusual to be looking at mountains from above. I am yet to see another mountain panorama so easy on the eyes.
I’ve learnt that there is no time like the present to get out and explore what your country has to offer. Life has a strange way of surprising you with a change of direction when you least expect it. What are the things you love about where you’re living right now? Do you have an idea what you want to see and accomplish in the time you’re there? If you’ve been putting off that weekend away for the last few months, it’s time to take the plunge and go for it. Take control and see the world!
About the author: Flights booked. Camera packed. Satisfaction guaranteed. Ben is a British expat currently living in Geneva, Switzerland. He works full time as a software developer, but his full time passion is exploring our incredible planet and inspiring others to do the same through his photography. To find out more visit Flights. Camera. Satisfaction.