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Beyond the dreams of Jemima

In 1863, Jemima Morrell could only have dreamed of going where our modern-day 'Jemima', Helen Mort, has just been – up into the Arctic realm of snow-covered Alpine peaks. To the Jungfrau, to be exact. Well, at least to the Jungfraujoch – the 'Top of Europe', as the Swiss like to call it.

Walking holidays in SwitzerlandDeparting from Grindelwald, Helen's party took the train to Kleine Scheidegg and then up through the imposing yet truly magnificent North Face of the Eiger.

Helen has been fascinated by this mountain since childhood; thrilled by tales of intrepid mountaineers scaling the heights, against the odds and sometimes against good fortune. She has long harboured a desire to climb this summit, not from Europe's highest railway station, but from the valley, the foot of the North Face to its summit (the hard way) – but for now she is content, lost in her own thoughts (left), to make her way up in the train with the rest of her party.

Jemima and Helen share many similarities. They are of similar age; both come from Yorkshire; they like to write (both are gifted writers as can be seen in Jemima's diary and Helen's blog and poetic works). Both enjoy the physical and mental rewards of walking or climbing, pitting themselves against the elements. Faced with the Gemmi Pass, both walked up. Helen has run the London Marathon on several occasions and, if it had been around in 1863, I'm sure Miss Jemima would have done so, too. Let's face it, this is why Helen was chosen as our 21st-century Jemima.

The Jungfraujoch is a bit of a theme park these days. Lots to do and see as you fight your way through hordes of Japanese tourists. But we're tourists, too, as was Miss Jemima and her party, aptly named the Junior United Alpine Club. And we're all here for the same thing, regardless of our country of origin – to experience what it is like almost 3,500 metres above sea level (3,545 to be precise). It's cold, too, and not just in the ice tunnels carved through the glacier. We joined Helen out on the plateau (right). The sun was out; the sky was blue and the Mönch and Jungfrau were towering over us (the Eiger is hidden from Jungfraujoch). Miss Jemima was inspired by these peaks too, as she noted in her diary:

"Half an hour's walk brought us to the summit of Wengernalp, opposite which rose in almost Military line, the pointed Eiger, the cowled Mönch and the glistening Jungfrau..."

Walking holidays in SwitzerlandTeeming with day-trippers, this 'Disney-fied' mountain resort is not quite what purist climbers like Helen dream of. But she still happily posed for our interpretation of how Disney might have given these three great mountain peaks a face, a personality, a human side:
The 'Ogre' (well, I could hardly ask anyone else); the 'Monk' (sorry, Kevin – it was the black jumper and bald pate); and the 'Young Maiden' herself (who else?).

[I know that Eiger does not translate as 'ogre' but it's what the locals call it.]
 

Posted: 26/06/2013 05:52:17 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, lifestyle, photography, Switzerland, walking


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