Thursday, August 21, 2008

2009 Season Dates: Sneak Preview

We're certainly not finished with this year's hiking season, but here's a quick look at the 2009 schedule.

European Tours


Italian Dolomites Trek: June 15-22, 2009

Cortina & the Lakes of the Dolomites: June 24-30, 2009

Tour du Mont Blanc: July 3-12, 2009

The Heart of Austria-NEW! : July 13-20, 2009

Frida's Birthday: July 23, 2009

Golden Pass Route: July 24-30, 2009

Engadine Trek: July 24-31, 2009

Eiger Trail: August 1-9, 2009

Engadine Summit Series: August 11-18, 2009

Jungfrau Ramble: August 11-18,2009

Secret Swiss Valleys II: August 19-26, 2009

Hiker's Haute Route: August 19-28, 2009

Jubilaum 25th Anniverary Tour-NEW!: August 28-September 5, 2009

Otzi Trek: September 9-September 16, 2009

Appenzell Hut Hop: September 17-22, 2009


U.S. Tours

Red Rock Country: May 4-12, 2009

Telluride Trek I: September 11-19, 2009

Telluride Trek II: September 22-30, 2009



Please contact Ryder-Walker with any questions regarding these tours. This is also the best time to schedule private tours for 2009. Please drop us an email or give us a call, 888-586-8365 or 970.728.6481.

You can also visit our web page for more specific information regarding these tours.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In the news.


We have a number of important news items to share this morning.

First, Mr. Walker kindly mentioned that I made a mistake in my recent post. I wrote about a hotel in Switzerland that charges 50 Swiss francs per room, or about $55 U.S. Actually, 50 Swiss Francs costs around $45.50 U.S, or ten Dollars less. I knew this, and I blame my mistake on the excessive amounts of Fontina cheese and Belgian ale that I consumed the night before. I was simply thinking about the Dollar's poor performance against the Euro, and I forgot to change the math for the Swiss Franc. Thank you Peter, for reminding us that Switzerland is an even better bargain when I'm not writing about it.

Second, if you're thinking about organizing a private tour for 2009, then now is the time to call the office. We regularly tailor our calendar and schedule our guides around client requests. If you contact us now, then we'll have plenty of opportunity to guarantee guide availability for your private tour. Call now to reserve your spot.

This brings me to the third news item.

The 2009 schedule is now available. Keep in mind that it's not entirely set in stone, but it's pretty darn close. We're still working on the prices for next year so we'll continue to charge the 2008 prices until September 30th. This also offers a little incentive to book early and to save a little cash for things like Fontina cheese and Belgian Ale. Please call the office to ask about the new schedule. I'll also post the sneak peak online shortly.

Finally, the Italian High Route departs today. It's around 9:00 A.M. in the Rocky Mountains as write this entry, which means that it's 5:00 P.M. in Italy. In two hours, Ken Fuhrer and Mike Thurk will greet our eager travelers with cocktails and a brief orientation before settling down for a cozy little Italian dinner in the heart of Cormayeur, Italy. Tomorrow they'll feast on warm foccia bread topped with luscious olive oil, sweet basil and succulent tomatoes . I'm drooling on the keyboard.

Looking back, I remember that it rained all evening when Daniel and I started the High Route last year, but we welcomed every drop. There's something special about the sound of raindrops falling gently on Italian cobblestone that always makes a dinner atmosphere feel cozy and warm.

Let's wish our friends the best of luck as they venture off the beaten path to explore the Valle D'Aosta of northern Italy, to hike beneath the mighty Matterhorn, and to cross into Switzerland beneath the shadows of the mighty alps that lie beyond. Bonne journée et bonne chance!

Photo: Very typical stone architecture of the Valle D'Aosta-shot in St.Rhemy, Italy. Copyright Ryder-Walker.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't lie awake wondering.


The New York Times recently mentioned something that we in the travel industry continually talk about. Switzerland is still a great buy when compared with the U.S. Dollar's unfavorable exchange rate in other Euro-based countries. The Swiss Franc and the U.S. Dollar are basically equal at the moment and they've been holding that position all summer.

As an example, I recently searched for a clean little one star hotel in the Valais region of Switzerland, and I found one for 50 swiss francs per night including breakfast. That's 55 bucks U.S! I paid that same amount two years ago at a run down big box chain hotel here in the States, and I didn't even get breakfast or good sleep. And the worst part? I just sat awake in bed thinking about all of the quiet little berghauses that pepper the Alps with charm and don't cost a quarter of the price. Sure, some of them are hard to get to, and I could have just as easily camped out here in the States, (I should have), but here's my point.

If you're going to spend money on a hotel room, regardless of whether it's 50 bucks or $250, then you might as well do it in a place with Roman baths, World Heritage Sites, chocolate, cheese, yodeling, tinkling bells, accents that make you feel like you're a foreign special agent on a secret mission,....well, you get the picture. Don't lie awake wondering what could have been.

Check out this recent New York Times mention of our Appenzell tour. Or this one from the Boston Globe.

Incidentally, we still have space on our Appenzell tour, but the slots are going fast.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From our Guests:

Greetings from New Jersey!

We just completed the Secret Swiss Valleys trip and thought you might like to see the photo of Kenny on the newly completed hanging bridge. He was like a kid in a candy shop with excitement.

The trip was fabulous in every detail. As always, Kenny was a knowledgeable and professional guide. Porter was also excellent. Both of them were particularly kind to our friends the Snyders, and we are most appreciative.

Thank you for another memorable vacation in the Alps. We look forward to joining you for a "Jubilee" trip next summer.

Blythe and Ray Fortin-

Friday, August 08, 2008

Make the Cavemen Jealous.


It will happen one day.

On a quiet morning, halfway through your vacation, you’ll wake up to the soft pattering sound of raindrops falling outside your window. You’ll turn over, smile, and slowly fall back to sleep before a revelation hits you. “It’s raining, and I have a six, to eight hour hike ahead of me today.”

It’s inevitable. It WILL rain. It simply must rain in order to preserve the beauty and natural order of the mountains that we love. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With a little advance preparation, you’ll learn to welcome regular precipitation. You might even ask for it by name.

One of your greatest assets on a long hiking tour, aside from quality rain gear, is a good dry bag for your pack. There’s something intrinsically satisfying that comes from the knowledge that your gear sits properly stowed, protected and dry during a storm. I like to think that such comfort stems from a connection with much older, primeval memories buried deep within our psyche. I often wonder what coziness our Neolithic ancestors felt when they lit their first fire, huddled deep inside their caves, and braved the long, slow advance of the ice days.

I use the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Pack. They come in a variety of sizes so pick the one that works best for you. You basically want it to line the interior of your bag. I use the 20-liter version inside of my compressible 50-liter pack and it works well. Remember that rain gear doesn’t need to go inside the dry pack during the day. Keep your rain gear in a place where it’s easy accessible in case a sudden storm blows in.

The best thing about these bags is that they’re extremely light, they’re durable, they have a nice watertight closure system, and they’re relatively inexpensive. I can tell that I’ll have mine for a long time, barring any unexpected theft or loss. You could get away with using a garbage bag, but why bother? Do yourself a favor, and line your pack with one of these bags.

You might even find yourself connecting with the primordial stirrings of mankind, and the very roots of all that has gone before.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Switzerland!

August 1 is the Swiss National Day.



Go do something fun this weekend!