The Alpine Club has opened applications for attendees to join a trip to Zermatt, Switzerland to travel and climb in the footsteps of Lucy Walker and Meta Brevoort who, in 1871, made the first female ascents of a number of iconic European peaks, including the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and the Dent Blanche.
Walker, a British climber from Liverpool, was one of the foremost mountaineers of the 19th century. No lesser figure than Edward Whymper commented that “no candidate for election in the Alpine Club...ever submitted a list of qualifications at all approaching the list of Miss Walker”. Throughout her climbing career, she made the first female ascents of 16 mountains, including the Eiger, and took part in nearly 100 expeditions.
In 1871, she and Brevoort both sought to be the first woman atop the summit of the Matterhorn. While Walker achieved this on the 21st of July that year, Brevoort had no less an impressive season, claiming the first female ascents of the Weisshorn, Bietschhorn, and the Dent Blanche, as well as becoming the first woman to complete the Matterhorn traverse.
The Alpine Club hopes to bring together a diverse group of women to mark this extraordinary year in female mountaineering with the aim of broadening access to mountaineering through inspiration, in the same way that Walker and Brevoort did for women a century and a half ago. To this end, the Alpine Club is offering two subsidised places to women with the desire to climb in the Alps who may not yet have had the opportunity.
The event will facilitate a group of around 12-14 women with varying levels of alpine experience and from different backgrounds to partner each other on one or more of Walker and Brevoort’s routes. The emphasis will be on sharing, learning, enjoyment and reflecting on the inspiring legacy left to us by these women and considering the one we leave for future generations.
As part of our goal to bring together a wide group of participants, the meet will be composed of both club members and non-members. We would therefore encourage anyone with an interest to apply regardless of club affiliation.
The proposed dates for the trip are 21 August to 4 September 2021 (subject to the Covid-19 situation). Applications to join the group are now open via this Google Form. The deadline for applications is 30th April 2021 and a decision will be made by the end of May.
The event will be primarily based at the campsite in Randa, Zermatt and we will use the huts for access to the peaks. We will start with a week of getting to know each other and acclimatising by climbing nearby peaks, followed by a week in which the designated routes will be attempted. At the end we will meet together for a celebratory dinner in Zermatt.
The Alpine Club has decided to offer two subsidised places to ensure that our aims of inclusivity are met. We wish to give women who harbour a desire to climb in the Alps but who may not yet have had the opportunity, to share in this experience by giving them financial, technical and moral support. However, due to the nature of the proposed climbs, some experience of rock and snow and ice climbing is required. All accommodation (including use of huts with half board) during the event period, transport while in Zermatt (including use of lifts) and the celebratory dinner will be covered as well as a year’s free aspirant membership to the Alpine Club. Recipients will be expected to pay for their travel to Zermatt, any personal and rescue insurance and any food or drink consumed outside of the huts.