When your friends are visiting your home country, you want to make sure they get the full Swiss Mountain Experience—with plenty of skiing, ice climbing, culture…and cheese. On this trip, our guide Caroline George had the honor of showing her teammates Lel Tone, Kent McBride, and Erik Leidecker some of her backyard gems.
The Swiss Alps
The alpine region of Switzerland, often referred to as the Swiss Alps, extends over both the Western and Eastern Alps and contains the country’s highest peaks, including the famous Matterhorn (4,478m). It is a less populated region of the country but very popular among outdoor enthusiasts for trekking, hiking, and skiing.
Swinging Axes & Slashing Pow
Their adventure began with some ski touring at Bruson, and once the weather cleared, they headed for some of the world’s best backcountry ski terrain around Verbier. The team enjoyed the gorgeous scenery as they toured to the Mont-Fort Hut, where they enjoyed the cheesy goodness of a local fondue. The next day, they toured and skied untracked snow all the way down to the hamlet of Fionnay. They finished their day by skinning 2,000 feet up to the Great Saint Bernard Hospice, an 8th-century building that still hosts mountain travelers.
Waking up to harsh weather didn’t stop the team from going ice climbing the following day. Zinal was one of the first places where Caroline learned to climb, and to her, returning felt like coming home. The snow kept falling as they swung their ice tools…ensuring there would be plenty of powder for their last day of skiing.
The team was first in line at the Zinal resort lift the next morning, getting the best tracks of the day. Riding the lift, skiing fresh pow, riding the lift, ski touring a little, shredding untracked lines to the bottom—over and over again until their legs gave out. It was the icing on their Swiss trip cake, and the best possible way to end an amazing week of exploring the Alps together.
Alpine Climbing Guide (IFMGA)
For more than a decade, Caroline George has lived for the vertical dimension, tackling some of the hardest ice and mixed routes. Raised by climbing parents, George followed in their footsteps by sharpening her skills in the Swiss Alps, then earned her guiding certs in the male-dominated ranks in a profession steeped in alpine tradition. A true working guide, she has also participated in an impressive tick list of climbing expeditions that have taken her from Mt. Vinson, Antarctica, to the deeply carved fjords of Norway.
Ski Guide (AMGA/IFMGA)
Raised in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area Leidecker earned his guiding stripes in one of the most remote and jagged ranges in the lower 48, the Sawtooths. An IFMGA Mountain Guide with two decades of experience, this Idaho resident is extremely proficient on long ski traverses and high alpine and rock routes. He co-owns and operates Sawtooth Mountain Guides and their famous Williams Peak Yurt. Erik also works as an instructor and examiner for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE).