Thursday, March 24, 2011

Readers Submit Their Favorite Umbrellas


RW guest, Dudley Mairs, sent this photo in response to our recent post.

Dudley writes,

After a gruelling 8-10 hour trek in the rain*, there suddenly appears the spectre of Daniel.
-The Eiger Trail 2009.

I must admit, I had Daniel's umbrella in mind when I wrote about hiking with an umbrella. Sadly, I couldn't find a photo of his umbrella anywhere. Fortunately, Dudley rose to the occasion. Thank you Dudley! You read my mind.

Daniel once told me that he liked his umbrella because it reminded him of the loo at the Segantini Hut. See what he means by clicking here.

Do you have your own umbrella photos, stories or tips? Please submit them. You can also post them on our facebook page. We'd love to hear from you.

Trail humor:

Two guys meet in the middle of the desert. One is carrying a car door, the other an umbrella.

The one with the car door says to the guy with the umbrella, "Why are you carrying that umbrella around, it isn't going to rain in the desert?"

The guy with the umbrella replies, "Yeah, but it keeps me out of the sun!" Speaking of which, why are you carrying around that car door? You don't even have a car to go with it."

The guy with the car door says, "True, but if I get too hot from the sun I can just roll down the window!"

See you on the trail.

*Note. It doesn't usually rain during our tours.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Umbrella Believer | Brighten Your Rainy Day Hike


Mark Saurer knows the importance of a good umbrella. An umbrella creates a dry, comfortable space around the head and upper torso that a rain jacket can never provide. It also has other uses.
  • Keeps items dry while digging around in your pack during a deluge.
  • Offers shade on sunny days when you've run out of sunblock.
  • Allows you to hike longer without a rain jacket, thereby reducing the damp clamminess that occurs during humid weather. (Especially on climbs).
  • Keeps precious items off the wet ground. (flip it upside down and use it like a bowl)
Have your own uses? Please submit them here.

What about wind? True. No umbrella can withstand a strong wind. That said, we find that we're able to use our umbrellas in all but the most foul weather conditions.

What about lightning? When in doubt, put the umbrella away. Or consider the Chrome Dome Trekking Umbrella from GoLite. It's spendy, but it's fashioned without metal.

Though we never suggest leaving your rain jacket at home, we do recommend the addition of a small, lightweight umbrella in your pack. Our guides swear by them. If nothing else, it can make a rainy day seem a little brighter.

Image: Mark Saurer, an umbrella believer.
Italian High Route, Italy | Chris Pranskatis

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Go With a Pro: Alpenglow Ski Safaris Named PSIA/AASI Member School


Ryder-Walker's sister company, Alpenglow Ski Safaris, proudly announces their newest distinction as a *PSIA/*AASI member school. Alpenglow offers delectable inn-to-inn ski vacations in the Alps, and their member school designation propels them to the forefront of the winter adventure travel/sports industry.


What does it mean to become a PSIA/AASI member school? Alpenglow's guides, all of whom are fully certified, top level ski and snowboard instructors, can now host their own in house training exams, sponsor education clinics and teach lessons. Alpenglow can also leverage PSIA and AASI 's vast educational resources to attract top quality leadership, drive innovation, and, most importantly, deliver an unparalleled guest experience.

Put simply, Alpenglow guests benefit from professional guiding, preeminent instruction and trip leadership honed by the highest levels of continuing education. When you join an Alpenglow Ski Safaris ski vacation, you're going with the pros.

It's worth boasting that Alpenglow Ski Safaris had to apply to become a member school, and it's the only company of its kind to receive member school status. This recognition is precedent setting, and it confirms that Alpenglow's team is the very best at what they do.

Are we grinning? You bet we are!

Visit alpenglowskisafaris.com to learn more.

*Professional Ski Instructors of America
*American Association of Snowboard Instructors

Image: Alpenglow guests gazing into Switzerland.
Vorlarlberg, Austria | Ken Fuhrer

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swiss History: One of Grindelwald's Oldest Hotels


In the old days, wooden buildings existed under a constant threat of fire, and Swiss chalets were no exception. While modern materials and techniques have essentially rendered fires a thing of the past, there used to be a time when conflagrations posed a constant threat that often decimated villages with a single blow.

The world-famous resort village of Grindelwald suffered such a fate on August 18, 1892. A fire swept through the tiny Swiss village and destroyed an estimated 50 buildings, nearly half the town at that time.

An article published by the New York Times on August 19, 1892 described the scene.

Embers from the burning structures were carried a long distance, and a number of chalets miles away from Grindelwald were set on fire. When the fire broke out, the tourists stopping at the Hotel Baer devoted themselves to saving their luggage and valuables. When their property was secured, they joined the villagers and the guests from the other hotels, and together fought the fire. A bucket line was formed and water was passed along as rapidly as possible, but the flames had gained too much headway to be subdued by this means. The village is a straggling one, and it was due to this fact alone that it was not entirely destroyed.

The above photo shows one of the buildings that survived the fire. Note the metal roof in the upper left hand corner. Metal roofs were a notable advancement in fire prevention and suppression during the 20th century.

Built in 1789, this cozy Swiss chalet represents one of the oldest buildings in central Grindelwald. It’s seen political uprisings, the ravages of fire, two world wars, an era of space exploration, and more. Like a wise old tree that weathers the sands of time, she stands watch as generations come and go.

Today, this Swiss icon provides a home for weary travelers and maintains the charm of days gone by. With a cozy bierstube, sunny decks and unobstructed views of Switzerland’s most distinctive peaks, it’s our preferred resting place when hiking between Interlaken, Wengen, Meiringen and beyond. Don’t be dissuaded by its age, however. While the old house endures, a sophisticated, three star contemporary addition offers discerning travelers every amenity.

Trips that visit this region:

Image: One of the oldest hotels in Grindelwald.
Grindelwald, Switzerland | Ken Fuhrer

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Chalandamarz: A Colorful Swiss Tradition



It's March 1st.

This is the day that children from the Engadine Valley in southeastern Switzerland chase away winter by singing and ringing cowbells. The children don blue shirts and red caps and process through their towns carrying large bells, collecting treats and making a huge racket.

Swissinfo recorded the sights and sounds of this colorful tradition in the (otherwise) tranquil village of Ardez. You can read, and hear, about it by following this link.

Chalandamarz gained much publicity following the publication of the children's book Schellenursli, "A Bell for Ursli", written by Selina Chönz and illustrated by Alois Carigiet. Look for this book if you ever go to the Engadine. It's a fun gift and a wonderful keepsake.

An excerpt from the book:

All through the summer in the Engadine Mountains of Switzerland the cattle feed in the mountain meadows, carrying bells around their necks. The calves have little bells and the cows have big ones. When they come into their sheds for the winter the bells are taken off. In March when winter is over, the Spring Festival comes, and the bells are rung in the village to celebrate the end of the cold, dark days. All the boys march in procession through the street, each carrying the biggest bell he can, and they ring their bells to drive the winter away and welcome back the sunny spring. And the village people smile, and fill the bells with cakes and nuts and apples. But only the big boys can carry the big bells: the little boys come at the tail of the procession carrying little calf-bells. This is the story of Ursli, and of the adventure he has when the Spring Festival comes around and he decides he is old enough to have a big bell for the first time.

Happy Chalandamarz!

Trips that visit this region: