Allen’s Adventures in Europe – Part Five


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, 
The Matterhorn
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.
The Matterhorn, in all its majestic glory
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.
Gornergrat Railway is the second-highest railway in Europe after the Jungfrau and the highest open-air railway on the continent. The line opened in 1898 and was the first electric rack railway to be built in Switzerland.
The view is absolutely splendid and the train was nearly empty
Up at the Gornergrat (Corner Ridge) observation ridge with the Kulm Hotel (10,240 ft) and observation tower as background, Matterhorn is further away in the mist
Above the clouds, there are hiking routes pointing in all directions
The Magnificent Views
Mountains in all directions
When the clouds lifted we could see the Gorner glacier
With the clouds all around us, the view was rewarding for those who wait.
A different view
…I couldn’t resist…
Splendid is the word
The History
No article or report on a visit to the Matterhorn would be complete without an account of the first ascent.
The first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, a triumph and tragedy
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 hereSGW)
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.
Chillon Castle
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.
Chillon castle sitting on Lake Geneva
From another angle
It’s quiet like many of the tourist spots
Lake Geneva and Montreux
An evening walk along the shore of Lake Geneva
It’s beautiful even under the like drizzle
Montreux is famous for its Jazz festival, here’s Freddie Mercury Statue dressed in his yellow military jacket and the red-striped white trousers he wore at the legendary Wembley concert in 1986
Hotel Eden Palace Au Lac
More with the hotel
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.

Thank you for visiting Stewart Goes Walkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can contact us here:



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Published by stewartgoeswalkies

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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