When your friends are visiting your home country, you want to make sure they get the full Swiss Mountain Experience—with plenty of skiing, ice climbing, culture…and cheese. On this trip, our guide Caroline George had the honor of showing her teammates Lel Tone, Kent McBride, and Erik Leidecker some of her backyard gems.
The Swiss Alps
The alpine region of Switzerland, often referred to as the Swiss Alps, extends over both the Western and Eastern Alps and contains the country’s highest peaks, including the famous Matterhorn (4,478m). It is a less populated region of the country but very popular among outdoor enthusiasts for trekking, hiking, and skiing.
Swinging Axes & Slashing Pow
Their adventure began with some ski touring at Bruson, and once the weather cleared, they headed for some of the world’s best backcountry ski terrain around Verbier. The team enjoyed the gorgeous scenery as they toured to the Mont-Fort Hut, where they enjoyed the cheesy goodness of a local fondue. The next day, they toured and skied untracked snow all the way down to the hamlet of Fionnay. They finished their day by skinning 2,000 feet up to the Great Saint Bernard Hospice, an 8th-century building that still hosts mountain travelers.
Waking up to harsh weather didn’t stop the team from going ice climbing the following day. Zinal was one of the first places where Caroline learned to climb, and to her, returning felt like coming home. The snow kept falling as they swung their ice tools…ensuring there would be plenty of powder for their last day of skiing.
The team was first in line at the Zinal resort lift the next morning, getting the best tracks of the day. Riding the lift, skiing fresh pow, riding the lift, ski touring a little, shredding untracked lines to the bottom—over and over again until their legs gave out. It was the icing on their Swiss trip cake, and the best possible way to end an amazing week of exploring the Alps together.
Meet the Guides
Eddie Bauer Alpine Climbing Guide (IFMGA)
Raised by climbing parents, Caroline fell in love with elevation early and has thrived at high altitudes ever since. She’s taken on some of the hardest ice and mixed routes in the world, in places ranging from Norway and Iceland to the Alps, Ouray, and the Canadian Rockies. She’s competed in the Ice Climbing World Cup and is a fully certified IFMGA guide. In 2012, Caroline temporarily dialed back the difficulty of her climbs as she journeyed into motherhood but stayed active up until her final day of pregnancy.
Eddie Bauer Ski Guide
A world-class ski guide, Lel is also a multi-sport, multi-season athlete. She has competed in freeskiing competitions and professional mountain bike races. She started skiing as a child in the Swiss Alps and continued to pursue that passion when she was 10 and moved with her family to the US. Now based in Lake Tahoe, she divides her winters between Tahoe and Alaska, where she’s a lead guide with Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. In addition to ski guiding, Lel holds Level 3 avalanche certifications and works as an avalanche forecaster for Squaw Valley Ski Patrol.
Eddie Bauer Ski Guide (IFMGA)
Few guides know the terrain of Idaho’s Sawtooth Range better than Erik. Raised in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area, he earned his guiding stripes in one of the most remote and rugged ranges in the lower 48. An IFMGA mountain guide with two decades of experience, Erik is extremely proficient on foot as well as on skis. He co-owns and operates Sawtooth Mountain Guides and also works as an instructor and examiner for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE).
Eddie Bauer Ski Guide (IFMGA)
Holding full international certification as a rock, alpine, and ski guide, Kent is qualified to guide in any country that has mountains. For more than 20 years, he’s guided in some of Alaska’s most legendary heli-ski zones, including Valdez, Haines, Girdwood, and the Tordrillos. At home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he ski guides for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Exum Mountain Guides, High Mountain Heli, and Teton Backcountry Guides.