SWI swissinfo.ch

"Alps Walk"- from icy beginnings to melting glaciers (August 26-September 4, 2001).

    Bern (ots) - A 10-day British-Swiss transalpine expedition re-visits a 19th century climb across some of the most spectacular parts of the Swiss Alps, tracing the history and development of mountaineering, and the changes to the landscape.

    For the first time an expedition of this kind can be followed on the Internet. swissinfo/Swiss Radio International (SRI) will be presenting day-by-day progress reports on the expedition on www.swissinfo.org

    Watch the climbers' progress as they traverse the Aletsch and Jungfrau region, considered by many to be the most magnificent section of the Alps, and read about their journey, and the issues facing the alpine region, including the responsibility we all bear - whether as climbers, tourists, naturalists or sportsmen and sportswomen - towards the environment.

    Dressed in period costume, the seven-strong British-Swiss party will:

    - Show how mountaineering has changed since the golden age of the
sport      - Demonstrate its effect on tourism      - Illustrate how the
alpine environment has changed due to man's presence and climate
change

    Follow the daily progress of the expedition on www.swissinfo.org with

    - Videos, a diary and background reports on this scenic and
fascinating route      - Talk to members of the mountaineering party
via a message board

    The team of experienced British climbers and their Swiss guides and porters, some descendants of mountaineering pioneers, will share their knowledge of the history of alpinism and local traditions. The team leaders are British mountaineer, Les Swindin, and Swiss mountain guide Johann Kaufmann, whose family has been guiding since the 1880s.

    The expedition begins on August 26 at the Villa Cassel, a remnant of the Belle Époque, overlooking the Aletsch Glacier. It is the longest in Europe but it is also fast disappearing. The whole region is soon expected to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

    The traverse includes ascents of 4,000-metre-high peaks, formerly achieved by cutting steps for English gentlemen out of the ice and now accessible to climbers wearing lightweight crampons and aided by hooks fastened to the rocks.

    The mountaineering party will be underway for an average eight hours a day, and spend the night in cabins. Regular helicopter food deliveries make the carrying of provisions unnecessary, but raises the question of whether mountaineering can be considered an ecologically low-impact pursuit.

    The expedition ends on September 4 at the grand hotel Victoria-Jungfrau in Interlaken. Built during tourism's golden age, it has retained much of the glorious atmosphere of the period and was Switzerland's hotel of the year in 2000.

    "Alps Walk" is presented by www.swissinfo.org, the multilingual news and information platform of swissinfo/SRI. This service supplies text, video, television and radio information on current events in Switzerland and the world (politics, business, society, culture, science and sport) in nine languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese). In addition the English site offers a travel page that is a must for all who love to holiday in Switzerland. The wide range of services offered by www.swissinfo.org also includes a Swiss events calendar, electronic maps enabling users to locate any given place in Switzerland, and a free e-mail service (http://freemail.swissinfo.org).

ots Originaltext: Swiss Radio International SRI
Internet: www.newsaktuell.ch

Contact:
Christine Dudle-Crevoisier
swissinfo/ Swiss Radio International
Giacomettistrasse 1
CH - 3000 Berne 15
Mobile +41 79 358 06 30
E-mail: christine.dudle@swissinfo.ch



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