Monday, February 17, 2014

Q&A: Guided vs Self-guided Hiker’s Haute Route



Question: “Does the self-guided Hiker’s Haute Route follow the same itinerary as the guided version?

Answer: The guided Hiker’s Haute Route is two days longer than our self-guided version. It wasn’t always this way. We extended the guided itinerary by two days for 2014. The extension allows us to explore a remote section of trail between the villages of Champex and Arolla.
 
Put another way, the guided and self-guided itineraries are identical in every way until day five. The guided trip transfers to the village of Verbier while the self guided trip transfers to Arolla. The guided trip spends two nights in remote huts before descending to Arolla to pick up where the self-guided itinerary passed through a couple of days before. Both trips follow the same route from Arolla all the way to Zermatt.

It’s worth noting that self-guided trips can run at any time during the summer, but we don’t usually schedule them during the same dates as our guided tours.

Additionally, we are happy to add the two-day extension with hut stays to any self-guided itinerary for an additional supplement. We can also add a three-day extension from Zermatt to the village of Saas Fee at the end of the trip. This extension carries hikers across the famed Grächen Höhenweg and offers views of Switzerland’s tallest peaks to the south and the legendary Berner Oberland region to the north. The extension also includes a simple inn, a four star inn and a dramatically situated refuge.

Our recommendation: Upgrade the simple inn in Saas Fee with a Relais & Chateaux gourmet retreat. You’ll want to set aside the entire evening for your sybaritic experience!

All totaled: A self-guided Hiker’s Haute Route can easily reach 15 days in length with add-ons. Without add-ons, the self-guided trip is ten days long. The guided trip is a twelve-day tour.

Give us a call, or drop us an email to plan your next adventure.

Image: Hiking to the Forcletta pass (2874 meters) with the Matterhorn in the background (right). Hiker's Haute Route, Switzerland | By Ken Fuhrer.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!—Rock, Snow and Romance



The Delicate Arch means many things to many people, and for the young couple in this photo, it represents the beginning of a new chapter—the start of a new life.

Look closely at this image, and you’ll see a man on bended knee asking for his girl’s hand. Ryder-Walker guide Ken Fuhrer and his guests stopped to admire the view during our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour when the two hikers appeared and the guy suddenly went down on one knee.

It is no surprise that this gentleman picked the Delicate Arch to profess his love. The scenery alone is enough to make a person melt, with the red Entrada sandstone contrasting perfectly against the white, snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains.

When we look at this image, however, we see more than just a good view. We see harmony and the joining of two parts to create a more perfect whole.

It may not seem apparent at first glance, but the Delicate Arch actually consists of two parts. Red Entrada sandstone forms the base and pillars of the arch, while rock from the Curtis Formation makes up the bridge. A long time ago, there was no arch, only layers of sand and muck. The layers eventually fused, and today, sculpted, weathered and eroded by time, the formations endure, creating a unique whole and something beautiful for all the world to enjoy.

We don’t know what happened to the couple in this photo, but we hope that their relationship, like the Delicate Arch, stands the test of time and leads to something special. We wish the same for our blog readers too. Wherever you are, and whomever you’re with, we wish you love in the great outdoors, and an infinite world of possibilities.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Powder skiing till dark | Knee deep in Austria's Arlberg



Ryder-Walker’s sister company, Alpenglow Ski Safaris, just finished the first of their guided trips for this winter in the "cradle of skiing,” the Arlberg region of Austria.

The snow was great and everyone got to ski as much powder as daylight allowed. We took advantage of the conditions and the ability of moving uphill with touring gear to places like this, the Maroikopf, above Stuben.


The real pleasure stemmed from the happiness of our guests.

Judy writes:

Again want to thank you for the BEST SKI TRIP OF OUR LIVES.  It was so much fun to revisit the Arlberg region and be able to ski stuff we were not able to ski prior.  It was so much fun to again ski with you.  Loved staying in one place.  Loved that it was the Mondschein Hotel in Stuben.

Our next ski tour is the Paradiski-Val d’Isère, France.
April 5-12, 2014.

Cheers, Daniel

Top image: Guest Norm getting deep above the resort of Warth, Austria. 
Bottom: Hanging out above Stuben, Austria.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Health Tip: Visit the Austrian Tyrol and be happy



It is a known fact, (based upon years of empirical evidence), that you will be ridiculously happy if you visit the Austrian Tyrol. 

Moreover, visit any region referred to as “Tyrolean” or part of the “Tyrol,” and you will suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of calm, wellbeing and rightness with the world. The word “Tyrol” is synonymous with resplendent geography, enchanting architecture and a great quality of life. It also goes without saying that the hiking is heavenly and the food is beyond reproach.

Need proof of the happiness? Here's some:


In the top photo our guests hike to the village of Völs am Schlern during our Italian Dolomites Trek. Bottom photo: The girls really do wear dirndls, and they like to share their Schnapps. Other “Tyrolean” tours that we offer include the Bavarian Tyrol Trek and the Alpino Vino Wunderbar

Images by Chris Pranskatis

Monday, February 03, 2014

Changing Of The Guard



Today is Melanie Eggers’s last day. Many of you know Melanie through the various email and phone conversations that you’ve had while planning your trip. Whether you registered for a tour for the first time, inquired about logistics, or simply wanted to know what cheese to put in your pack, you usually communicated with Melanie at some point during your Ryder-Walker experience.

What many people don't know is that Melanie was the true unsung hero at Ryder-Walker. As our managing director, ‘Mel’, was responsible for EVERYTHING regarding your tour. She was in charge of registrations and guest service. She managed the hotel reservations. She handled the tour logistics, and she stood in line at the post office with piles of tour packages and bubble-wrapped beer steins. (She liked to call them "bubble babies" for short.) In addition, Mel outfitted the staff and guests with stylish new gear, and she also put out fires that the rest of us created. In short, Melanie did a $!## load of work, a fact that we can't emphasize enough!

During her “spare time”,  Melanie upgraded our client management system (a huge undertaking), installed a new state-of-the-art phone system (a very frustrating undertaking), troubleshot computer issues (never frustrating), and helped the rest of us with long term economic forecasting (Janet Yellen, eat your heart out!)—all while wearing a smile.

It's also worth noting that Melanie developed our self-guided hiking tours in Italy and France. Provence, Cinque Terre and Capri & the Amalfi Coast are her babies, but, in the end, it is a baby that pulls her away from Ryder-Walker.

If Melanie seemed absent this fall, it’s because she was. Melanie took maternity leave in September, giving birth to a beautiful baby boy. She returned to the office in January, but the pull of motherhood proved simply too great. Melanie has the opportunity to stay home and raise her child—something that we support and commend very highly in this day and age.

Melanie’s replacement is Eileen Burns, a longtime friend of the Ryder-Walker family that we’ll introduce in greater detail when she gets settled in. In the meantime, we take comfort in knowing that Melanie isn’t truly going away. Like most Ryder-Walker alumni, she promises to pop her head in from time to time. And who knows? The next time you travel to Europe, maybe you’ll see Melanie developing a new tour with an eager young hiker in tow.

Good luck Mel! We wish you all the best on your new journey.