Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Build Your Own Swiss Army Knife


Victorinox, the manufacturer of the classic Swiss Army knife, celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. To commemorate the event, they’re holding a special “build your own knife” workshop at the Ch√Ęteau de Prangins just outside of Geneva. The workshop is part of a much larger historical exhibition called ‘’Swiss Army Knife – Cult Object.’’

According to event organizers, the exhibition, also offers a ‘’unique opportunity to assemble your own personal knife, with the help of a cutler from Victorinox.”

A few of the tailor-made knife workshops have already passed, but the last one will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of March 2010.

A number of people attended a previous workshop on January 16th and produced the following video. The video is a little dry, but it offers an interesting look at how these Swiss icons are made.

Did you know that Victorinox and Wenger are the only knife manufacturers that are allowed to display the white cross of the Swiss Army on their knives? It’s true. Victorinox and Wenger are the real deal.

Check out this photo.


It’s a picnic lunch during one of our hiking tours through the Alps. That’s my Ryder-Walker special edition in blue sitting there in the middle. And yes, it sliced all those wonderful European delicacies.

Leatherman tools may be rugged, but nothing says “The Alps” like a Swiss Army. Interestingly, they make their own line of Leatherman style multitools too. You can view them here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Images from India

I love this photo. Daniel Sundqvist, one of our head guides, captured this image last summer while researching our new Markha Valley Trek in northern India. These kids loved following him around and they were extremely excited when he offered them treats. Daniel mentioned that the people of the Ladakh region often struggle to survive, yet they are some of the most gentle and fun-loving people that he's ever met.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Straight Out Of Indiana Jones


There is a scene in the classic 1981 Indian Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Dr. Jones captures a beam of light in order to locate the Well of Souls, a suspected burial place for the lost Ark of the Covenant. Using a crystal fixed atop a long walking stick called the Staff of Ra, Jones refracts a beam of sunlight to pinpoint the well's location on a subterranean map which eventually leads him to the Ark.

I always enjoyed the map room scene, and often wondered what it might be like to capture a beam of light and discover my own buried treasure. Now it looks as though I might get my chance.

Stage 1 of our new Via Alpina passes through a tiny hamlet called Elm. Most people know Elm as a tiny Swiss outpost in the center of a remote and mountainous region called Glarus. Elm boasts numerous awards for its historical and architectural authenticity, and it’s been in the news recently because it provides a convenient gateway to one of UNESCO’s newest world heritage sites, the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. Heritage sites aside, it’s the special geological and astrological phenomenon of Elm that interests me, and would probably interest Dr. Jones as well.

Twice a year, around the 12th of March and the 1st of October, rays of sunlight penetrate Martin’s hole, a 6 by 16 meter hole in the rock of the Tschingelhorn, and fall directly on the church tower in downtown Elm. The weather has to be just right and, according to a Swiss correspondent for the London Globe back in 1881, “The light makes a sort of weird illumination never forgotten by those who have seen it.”By a strange coincidence, and according to the same reporter, a disastrous landslide devastated the village of Elm during the same year and “at the exact moment when this semestrial illumination was going on.

Did the villagers get too close to something that they weren’t supposed to see? Was the landslide actually divine retribution for the intense slate quarrying that scarred the landscape and, as some believe, triggered the slide? Nobody knows. Today, the land is healed, all is at peace and the little church continues to glow beneath the warm light of St. Martin's Hole. Is there still something out there, patiently waiting to be discovered beneath the little church in downtown Elm? A hiker passing through this mysterious village might have an opportunity to find out.