Climbing in Switzerland

“Breathtaking, brilliant and beautiful”


James Davies from Macpac Macquarie recently got back an amazing European trip where he went climbing in Switzerland. He experienced heat waves, dangerous crossings, and some epic climbs. 

He shared his story with the Macpac Blog. 

Summit Mount Blanc De Cheilon (3870m)

Summit Mount Blanc De Chelion (3870m)

The European Alps, breathtaking, brilliant and beautiful. They stand as a testament to the sheer power of nature, and can be one of the most wild and remote places on earth. The mountains are a dynamic diversity of glaciers and mountains, providing the opportunity for climbers to gaze upon a vast picturesque landscape with sheer awe of its magnitude.

Cold mornings, scorching days, dangerous crossings and great banter sums up my climbing trip over to Switzerland.

The aim of the trip was to acclimatise for a week, through multiple ascents, and finished with a climb of the legendary Mont Blanc.

Whenever going into the outdoors safety is always of the utmost importance.

Hiking up from Arolla Village into the mountains.

Hiking up from Arolla Village into the mountains.

Being aware and informed of the potential situations that can be encountered out in the wilds allows you to be adequately prepared, and alert for omnipresent danger.

Hot weather can spell disasters for alpine climbers and the weather for the trip was far from ideal. Europe was experiencing a heat wave, weather in the valley was reaching upwards of 30 degrees, when temperatures should have been in the mid teens. This resulted in some significant changes to the planned route and some added precautions. The first few days were spent hiking around the alpine village of Leysin, Switzerland. Climbing the peaks of La Berenuse (2045m), and La Grand Crevesse and Prafadaz (1580m), it was all about working on foot placement, and getting some rock climbing in.

A short drive to the Arolla Valley, Switzerland brought about the start of the expedition. 2:30 am wake ups were regular to make the most of what frozen snow there was, due to the differences in freezing levels at altitude. These days were brutally fun, and basically involved climbing a peak each day for four days straight.

  • Pointe Du Pas De Chevres (2991m)
  • La Luette (3548m)
  • Mont Blanc De Chelion (3870m)
  • Pigne d’Arolla (3796m)
On top of the world - Summit Pigne d'Arolla (3796m) - You can see the Matterhorn in the background to the left.

On top of the world – Summit Pigne d’Arolla (3796m) – You can see the Matterhorn in the background to the left.

Safety is paramount in the mountains, and were accentuated by the hot conditions. Unfortunately the hot conditions meant greater amounts of rock fall, slushy snow, and lots of crevasse crossings. The outdoors is about having fun and calculating risks, with Mont Blanc perceived to be too dangerous, we made the decision to not continue.

The trip was incredible overall. Spending a week with professional climber Will Sim, my father, and the rest of the crew was awesome and definitely cant wait to get back over to the stomping ground. Meeting like-minded people and spending time with them on adventures in the outdoors is always so much fun, and being able to witness the incredible sunrises over snowy landscapes is magical.

The Swiss Alps also provided the perfect opportunity to test out Macpac’s Alpine Series gear (designed in partnership with the NZAT). Mountaineering is all about being light and agile, yet like all outdoor sports the gear list is quite extensive.

Macpac’s products let outdoor enthusiasts cut down  on weight without compromising durability or performance. The kit list from Macpac (see below) covered me for all aspects of the trip; travelling, running, climbing, mountaineering, and hut life. The NZAT Alpine Range is designed for those that really want to make the most of their adventure in the most comfortable clothing. My top picks were the; Prophet Jacket XPD AP Shield, Pulsar Jacket, Pro thermals and NZAT Pursuit Bag!

Kit List

      • Prophet Jacket XPD AP Shield
      • Pulsar Jacket
      • Warp Tshirt
      • Merino 180 Polo
      • Sabre Hoody
      • Prothermal Hoody
      • Prothermal Pants
      • Traverse Tights
      • Fast Track Shorts
      • Merino Hiker Socks
      • Global 80
      • Powder Glove
      • Stretch Glove
      • Merino 150 Beanie
      • Legionaire Cap
      • NZAT Pursuit Bag
      • Silk Liner
      • Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro Boots
      • Salewa MTN Trainer