Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Parting Shot

No matter how old you are, we hope that somebody grabs your hand and whisks you away to a new and exciting adventure. Here's to nurturing our next generation of hikers.

Happy New Year!
-from all of us at Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures.

Photo: by Staffan Björklund

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Switzerland Photos | Dreaming of Soglio

I'm dreaming of an ancient village this morning, one with cobblestone alleyways, peaceful meadows and Italian coffee warming over a wood fire. Welcome to Soglio, Switzerland! Perched on a hillside, and just a stone's throw from Italy, Soglio is the last stop on our Engadine Trek and Engadine Summit Series hiking tours.

Photo by Ken Fuhrer

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

FITS Hiking Socks | First Impressions

FITS™socks have been all the rage lately, so we were excited when Santa dropped a few pairs at the Ryder-Walker office.

Our first impressions: These socks really do FIT! They’re super comfy, and they feel a little beefier than other brands in the toebox and heel area. (Sort of a cozy-blanket-for-your-toes kind of feeling.) They’re also made in the U.S.A. from high quality Merino wool. A few of our friends have these socks and they claim that they don’t wear out as fast as other popular brands. Let the testing begin!

We also like the story behind the company.

Knitting socks in Niota, TN since 1902, Crescent Sock Co. endured the ups and downs that shaped the character of America’s people and her textiles industry. Today, the company produces socks under its own FITS™name in the oldest operating hosiery mill in the U.S. 

Not bad.

As a family-owned business ourselves (operating for 30 years), we applaud the Crescent Sock Company’s 110 years of success.

FITS manufactures socks for hiking, skiing, running, cycling, and just loafing around. Check out their website for more info. Better yet, grab a pair or two for yourself and test them on one of our hiking tours. They just might FIT you too!

Fine print: We HAVE NOT been compensated in anyway, (socks, money or otherwise), to endorse this brand. If we're not telling the truth, then let zombie gnomes eat us in our sleep. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mountain Photos | Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille Verte

If you subscribe to our e-newsletter, then you found this image delivered to your inbox yesterday.

Ken Fuhrer shot this photo during last summer’s Hiker’s Haute Route. The mountain on the left is called l’Aiguille du Chardonnet (3824 meters). The peak on the right is called l’Aiguille Verte (4122 meters). You can’t see it in the photo, but the Glacier d’Argentière forms a snaking river of ice between both mountains. There is also another glacier, the Glacier du Tour, which lies just in front of the Aiguille du Chardonnet.

Aiguille literally means “needle," in French. Judging by this photo, aiguille is an appropriate label for both peaks. Interestingly, myriad “aiguilles” surround the Chamonix valley. On the flanks of Chardonnet, for example, stand a handful of spires with names like Aiguille du Passon, Aiguille Adams Reilly and Aiguille Forbes. The Aiguille Verte also presents its own collection of needles. From well-known peaks like l’Aiguille du Midi and les Aiguilles Rouges, to the more obscure like l'Aiguille du Génépi and l'Aiguille du Pissoir (urinal needle), the names are a testament to the interesting history and rugged mountain scenery of the Mont Blanc massif.

Note: This is the perspective from Argentière, France. You can also get this view while hiking our Tour du Mont Blanc.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Photo of the Day: Our Front Door

We found this sign on the door of our office building today.
Either some big shot skiers are in town, or we just missed a tour bus filled with supermodels.
Let your imagination run wild.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Ramsau—Our new hiking tour in Germany and a painting by Thomas Fearnley

Now here’s a nice painting.

The work is called Ramsau, and it’s an oil on paper, painted en plein air and laid on canvas by Norwegian artist, Thomas Fearnley (1802-1842). 

Ramsau holds a lot of meaning for us because it’s a picturesque stop on our new Alpino Wunderbar hiking tour. Located in the Berchtesgaden National Park, just outside of Berchtesgaden, Germany, Ramsau is a quintessential southern Bavarian village.

This particular sketch is dated 1832, but like so many fairytale villages in the Alps, the Ramsau of today looks virtually identical to the tranquil hamlet that Fearnley painted 180 years ago. While, admittedly, the simple dirt track is now a modern road, tradition lives on in Ramsau. Women still rake hay in traditional dress, cows gather on the hillside and thin wisps of woodsmoke promise home cooked Bavarian meals and a warm bed. 

The Gasthof Oberwirt, the prominent building in the foreground, is a Bavarian inn that has been welcoming travelers for 500 years. The church in the background, with its onion-domed steeple that is characteristic of the region, is called Pfarrkirche St. Sebastian, (literally translated—parochial church St. Sebastian). The church was built in 1512. 

The mountain in the background is called the Hoher Göll (2,522 meters). With an elevation of just over 8,000 feet, the Hoher Göll is not a particularly tall mountain by Alps standards, but it is significant because it straddles the border between the German state of Bavaria and the Austrian city of Salzburg. The Hoher Göll is also a pleasure to admire and photograph, as evidenced by Fearnley’s work. 

Did Thomas Fearnley stay at the Gasthof Oberwirt during his sejour in Ramsau? We don’t know. What we do know is that Thomas Fearnley and his traveling companions, Wilhelm Bendz and Joseph Petzl, spent one week in the village during their 700-kilometer (435 mile) walk to Italy. (Climbers—Note Joseph’s last name!) According to diary entries by Bendz, the date of this painting, September 20th, 1832, was the last day the trio stayed in the village before continuing their hike across the Alps and into Italy.

If you’d like more info on Thomas Fearnley, or the history of this work, then head over to My Daily Art Display. The site's author, Jonathan, wrote a nice piece about Fearnley and Ramsau, so we won’t replicate the story here. Just give Jonathan a visit, and then check out our new Alpino Wunderbar hiking tour. We spend three days hiking in the vicinity of Ramsau and Berchtesgaden, Germany before moving across the border to Kitzbühel, Austria. We finish our week-long, transalpine hiking tour in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, famous for its stunning location in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Hiking Switzerland (and loving it) at Age 75.

Betsy Bell follows a simple mantra in life, "Use it or lose it!"

Betsy recently completed our 8-day self-guided Engadine Trek and she wrote about it on her blog, Grandma Betsy Bell. Of the four group members on Betsy’s hike, three were 75 years old, and the fourth was a youthful 83!

Originally fueled by the resolve to beat cancer at age 34, Betsy has devoted her life to, as she puts it, “shaping her present and future health.” Her blog offers “free weekly tips to be well and keep moving,” and it’s interesting to read her take on hiking through the Swiss Alps at age 75. Betsy’s trip wasn’t entirely without mishaps, but her preparedness and a passion for healthy living kept her on course.

Check out her blog when you get a chance, and let it be a reminder for all of us. We really do shape our present and future health (young and old).

Hiking the Engadine: Avoid Arthritis Pain
Heart attack? Climbing High
One More Injury Hiking the Engadine

photo courtesy of