A Day in the Life of the Eiger

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For rent: Private snow cave with Alpine views and running water.
I spent much of yesterday traversing the slopes of the mighty Eiger, walking its length along the base of the famed North Face. It was one of my mountain-groupie moments, where I got to touch a true rock star.
Even after a full summer, snow packs remained plastered against the Eiger’s cliffs, including this stunning bit of natural architecture. The snow had been eroded from within by the flow of a melt stream seeping down the walls of the North Face. Standing inside, the ‘window’ opened to a view across the Grindelwald valley to Schwarzhorn and Faulhorn.
The traverse was something of a side journey I made on my final day of a hike between Engelberg and Lauterbrunnen. Over four days I’ve walked about 80 kilometres and, with my pathological need to take the highest route, climbed and descended more than 5000 metres. My knees suddenly creak like rusty hinges.
The hike I’ve been doing is the self-guided Alpine Pass Route trip operated by UTracks (I get to walk alone, they get to cart my bag to the next hotel – win/win, as far as I’m concerned). It’s been a stunning walk in every regard – who couldn’t be happy with the Eiger, Wetterhorn and Jungfrau as hiking companions? Thoroughly recommend it.
Back in my snow pack on the Eiger, the melt continued. The stream rolled on through the cave, and water dripped from its ceiling, soaking me in minutes – this private bit of snow real estate even came with its own shower.

Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#3) Torres del Paine

I’m getting towards the pointy end of my list of favourite mountain treks…and quite literally with this entry. Chile’s multi-pronged Torres del Paine are one of South America’s pin-up images, with the massif’s sharp peaks rising as bent and broken as a fisherman’s fingers. Continue reading

Rhino Poaching

It was during a warm dawn last week in South Africa’s Karongwe Private Game Reserve that I finally grasped the extent of rhino poaching in Africa. Around the morning campfire in the lowveld beneath the northern Drakensberg, I asked a ranger to provide me with animal population numbers on the 9500-hectare reserve. Continue reading

Cycling Manali to Leh, India

Between the Indian cities of Manali and Leh, a highway wriggles through the Himalayas. It travels for 500 kilometres, crossing five high passes, including some of the highest road passes in the world. It journeys from the monsoon-washed greenery of Himachal Pradesh to the high, stark desert of Ladakh, passing through terrain so gorgeously brutal that the road is usually open for just three or four months of the year. That time of year is now. Continue reading

Colours of Colombia

I’ve just returned home from a couple of weeks travelling through Colombia, a country where preconceptions are inevitably misconceptions. Behind its dark recent history, Colombia is a place that’s rich in life and colour. Travel here and you discover that its cities are sophisticated, its landscapes inspiring, and its people somehow retain their beauty despite the party that never seems to end.

Here’s a short look at the many colours of Colombia. Continue reading

The Power of a Photo: Saving Tasmania’s Franklin River

Thirty years ago, big business tried to change Tasmania’s natural landscape, promising to dam the wild Franklin River and hand back electricity in its place. Instead, the Franklin River changed the Australian political landscape, helping overturn a government and giving the nascent Green movement legitimacy and support. Continue reading