Ok, apologies if you’ve given up ever hearing from us again. Life has a way of taking over. But, with exams and revision out of the way we are finally able to bring you the stories of mountains number 8 and 9 of our challenge.
So – mountain number 8 first, which we completed last August. Some of you will have already seen pictures on Facebook or Instagram of our trip to Switzerland, but for those that haven’t….mountain 8 was our first peak outside the UK. And we couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful adventure!
Issie’s godfather Simon, his lovely wife Chloe and their two beautiful children (Bonnie and Starkey) welcomed us to their heavenly house in the Swiss Alps for a long weekend at the end of the summer holidays last year. With my brother and father along for the ride this time round, we set off from Heathrow for Zurich on a Friday morning, ridiculously excited.
Piz Beverin is a mountain in the Lepontine Alps, overlooking Thusis in the canton of Graubünden. Simon had climbed the mountain a few times (once running!!) so had very kindly offered to guide us up this time round.
The drive from Zurich to the house was incredible and we oohed and aahed the whole way. Winding our way up into the mountains via increasingly tight hairpin bends, crossing beautifully mown fields that looked like bowling lawns and with cow bells tinkling in the hills around us we couldn’t quite believe what a beautiful place we had found ourselves in. After a quick stop for some cold drinks and cake…
…we arrived at Simon and Chloe’s house. How amazing!!
We were given quite the warmest of welcomes and after settling in we checked out Grandpa Andrew’s hotel across the road – an amazing place called the Capricorn. Pretty incredible views!
Grandpa had very kindly offered to hold the fort the next day with Chloe and that left me and Issie and Simon and my brother Al as the elite walking group (sort of).
Our first evening was spent discovering the beautiful area of the Beverin Nature Parc, which surrounded Simon and Chloe’s house.
The area is breathtaking and with temperatures in the 70s into early evening, we took the chance to get up high the easy way (on 4 wheels) for evening drinks as the sun went down amongst the glowing skies, tinkling cow bells and beautiful peaks.
After returning home for a wonderful meal, we were all tucked up in bed ready for an early start.
The next day dawned with a blue, sparkling sky and we were all super excited as we munched a huge cooked breakfast. A five minute drive up from the house and we were at the start.
With rucksacks loaded with water and lunch and snacks to keep us going, we were off! As always, the first 15 minutes were tough going as we warmed up our legs and got used to walking at a higher altitude than usual.
The summit tops out at 2,998m (just over 9000 feet) – our highest by a long way – so this was new territory. As we climbed, following the trail markers and our expert guide, the views were already spectacular and we were rewarded with glimpses of the summit along the way.
By 11am though, the temperature was already soaring and we realised this was going to be another first – climbing in strong heat, as opposed to the usual snow, wind and rain we had got accustomed to on most of our UK climbs! Stopping for refuelling along the way, Simon pointed out the curious marmots hiding in the grass and the beautiful flowers growing all around us on our way up.
The path was clear and easy to follow and with such stunning views we made good progress.
But all too soon we were leaving the plush green lower slopes behind and heading up scrambly stoney trails. This was getting harder.
We were very glad of Simon at this stage as we just about avoided heading off across the wrong mountain pass a few times.
Issie had found her feet and as we climbed towards the summit up above us, she put on a huge burst of speed. She was literally skipping up the path ahead while her somewhat older and creakier team mates made much heavier work of the last few kms. The altitude was gradually taking its toll on me and Al particularly.
But at last the top was in sight. We’d only seen another 2 or 3 fellow hikers all day and it was bliss to feel like we had the whole mountain nearly to ourselves.
One final push, with some scrambling up some steep sections using metal wires attached to the rocks, and we were there – the top of number eight, Piz Beverin!
We filled in the log book at the top, which included messages from the climbers from all around the world that had made it to the top.
And then we sat and watched, fascinated as some of our fellow walkers unpacked their enormous rucksacks next to us. Before we knew it, they had unravelled paragliders from their packs, strapped them to their backs and sauntered to the side of the mountain, only to soar and glide silently into the blue sky below. Breathtaking!
After refuelling with lunch a little way off the summit, Simon pointed out our route down. It wasn’t going to be quite as easy as our route up! Blocking the path down was a huge column of rock, with a very precarious ladder to help us scramble over it. Issie skipped up it no problem, I meanwhile approached the climb with a thudding heart, not helped by issie at the top shaking the ladder and giggling with laughter as I crawled up it…very slowly!
We did finally make it up in one piece, you can see some of the relief on my face below!
The rest of the walk down was completely beautiful. We didn’t see a soul, but instead chatted and talked about life and Charlie, marvelling all the way about the incredible landscape we were walking through.
Finally, after over 25,000 steps, we were rewarded with the most wonderful sight. Grandpa and Chloe and Starkey and Bonnie, all waiting for us with a picnic beside the most beautiful lake at the end of our trail.
What an amazing, amazing day. Huge, huge thanks to all the Tindalls for making this one of our favourite walks by far!