Stewart Goes Walkies is very pleased to have the latest installment of Allen Lai’s amazing adventures in Europe. In this episode, Allen fulfills one of his lifelong dreams.
The Matterhorn, Chillion Castle,
Like every mountaineer, I was fascinated by the Matterhorn and the history behind it. Yesterday was raining continuously, and the cloud was hanging low. Today’s forecast was 90% rain. So I thought my chances of seeing this beautiful mountain were slim.
Surprisingly, in the early morning, the sky cleared up, and I was able to see Matterhorn under the golden, rising sun from the hotel. We hurried to jump on the Gornergrat cogwheel mountain train, which climbed 5,000 ft to the Gornergrat observation tower to enjoy Matterhorn views. At 10,321 ft, we had a view of the Matterhorn, as well the impressive Gorner glacier, and dozens of other tall peaks in and out of the rolling clouds.
The Magnificent Views
No article or report on a visit to the Matterhorn would be complete without an account of the first ascent.
On 14 July 1865, British mountaineer Edward Whymper accomplished the first ascent. But as so often, success and misfortune went hand in hand. During the descent from the peak, a rope parted and four members of Whymper’s seven-man rope party fell to their deaths. Rumour has it that, in order to save themselves, they used a Swiss army knife to cut the rope. Whether it was actually a Swiss Army knife or some other kind of knife, the moral of the story is: never leave for the mountains without a Swiss Army Knife. (Spoons have also proved to be very useful in a squeeze. Read more here – SGW)
Standing there surrounded by high mountains, glaciers, and rolling clouds. Hikers and climbers with their climbing outfits, climbing boots, backpacks, and tourists from all over the world. My mind was filled with childhood dreams. A lot has changed in my life, but my love for the mountains has never dwindled. On the way down, it started to rain. I’ve been blessed. Thank you, God.
Our next stop was Chillon Castle. This water castle is the most visited historic building on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. For nearly four centuries Chillon was the residence and profitable toll station of the Counts of Savoy. The rocky island between Lake Geneva and the steep looming mountains was inhabited even in prehistoric times.
Lake Geneva and Montreux
At night, we checked into Hotel Eden Palace Au Lac by the side of Lake Geneva. This 100-room, 126 years old Victorian hotel opened in 1896 and was completely renovated. With Louis XVI furniture in the rooms. Palace-like decorations in the common area, chandeliers on the ceiling, and a grand piano in the lobby. How could I prevent my artistic fingers from flowing on the black and white ivory keys?
Many readers will know that I often refer to Allen Lai as my climbing mentor. Many of our climbing exploits, both successful and otherwise have been mentioned on these pages. I recall many an evening sitting outside the tent, dreaming aloud of the plans we had for our lives. Seeing the Matterhorn, up close and personal was one of Allen’s most talked of dreams and I am very happy for him to have completed this life-long quest.
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Happily married man to a wonderful lady. Living in Hong Kong. In my younger days I enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing. I've trekked in the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia.
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