Report" (Rhys on a 1:1 Swiss 4000ers course)
As promised, we now set out below a full expedition report
of the Williams-Velic exploration of wildest, most savage
Switzerland. We trod where no walrus has trodden before. And,
we wager, where no walrus will tread again.
Given that our expedition was one of unexplored lands, there
were no local guides to assist us on our intrepid path. Instead,
we appointed a guide from Slovakia, on the basis that Slovakia
and Switzerland both start with an "S". We chose
Slovakia because, like Switzerland, it has mountains, and
we were unable to find a guide from Swaziland.
On 17 July, we set off to climb Weissmeis, a mountain of 3167m
according to my trusty altimeter. Our guide, Monsieur Velic,
forgot to bring any mountaineering boots, leading some to
wonder whether or not he had actually climbed any mountains
in the past. We hired some boots for M. Velic, however, after
which he performed admirably. Our own lead climber, Monsieur
Williams, demonstrated a range of his most noted technical
skills in the high mountains, with some much-admired dry heaving
before he finally produced some of the contents of his stomach.
We camped that night in the enchanting hamlet of Zermatt (altitude
3167m) and set off the next day in order to climb the fearsome
Breithorn Half Traverse (3167m). In order to set ourselves
apart from our guide, and to emphasize the seriousness of
the undertaking, we decided to climb in full evening dress.
Our decision to start each day fashionably late was already
beginning to produce tremendous benefits, as we had the mountains
pretty much to ourselves, although the resulting melted snow
made the climbing somewhat challenging and the dash back to
catch the final cable car led to at least half the team (M.
Williams) throwing up again.
On 19 July, we made the first ascent of a new route up the
Riffelhorn (3167m), the highest mountain in the region, if
our calculations are correct. A lot of nonsense has been written
about the difficulty of some of the climbs on this fine mountain.
We, however, were able to find a route that is not listed
in any of the guidebooks. To the uninitiated, it might appear
that the route was almost a staircase with barely the need
to use one's hands, but that merely reflects the balance,
poise, and technique of our climbers. To make something so
difficult look so easy is high art indeed. We named the route
"The Williams-Velic Directissimo" and gave it a
grade of 5.39++, although we seriously doubt that anyone else
will ever attempt it. Life is simply too precious.
On 20 July, we climbed the previously unclimbed (so far as
we could tell, other than the other people on the summit)
Allalinhorn (3167m). By this stage in the expedition, many
members of the team were actually becoming acclimatised, thus
reducing the number of comedy stops, falls and heaves. This
was generally agreed to be a shameful day for everyone, and
we had little option but to terminate the expedition immediately.
We would like to record our thanks to our numerous supporters
and sponsors, including the ladies of Madame Fifi's Massage
Parlour for their enthusiastic hands-on support, and Icy-Cold
Mountain Beering, for recommending M. Velic to us in the first
Now that we have made the initial explorations into this untamed
land, we have no doubt that others, less brave perhaps, but
no less admirable in their own way, will follow. We confidently
predict that other mountains in this range will soon be climbed.
We humbly trust that posterity will view our small undertaking
with undiluted praise and exaggerated honour..