On the Eleventh Day…’A Long Walk in the Alps’ by Pete Buckley

To be in with a chance of winning A Long Walk in the Alps, just answer this quick question in the comments below;

What is the highest mountain in the European Alps?

A Long Walk in the Alps

Find out a little bit more about the author behind the book…

I’m Pete Buckley the UK based indie author of The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk a high speed adventure thriller in which the reader is introduced to Russian Agent Colonel Yuri Medev as well as to Jim Bergman of the FBI and Juli Regan; a young dance student from New York City. I am currently working on the next Yuri Medev adventure; entitled The Kirov Conspiracy due for release very soon, while previously I wrote a couple of travel stories about various wonderful places such as New Zealand and the Swiss Alps. Aside from writing, travel has always been a big inspiration with hiking, biking and the
outdoors taking up much of my time when I’m not looking after the kids.

You can find A Long Walk in the Alps at Amazon UK and Amazon US. Find Pete on his blog, on Twitter @yurimedevauthor or on Google+.

Grindelwald to Zermatt 023

Read on for a word from the author…

A Long Walk in the Alps was my second book and was an account of a solo trek I did one summer through the Alps from the Eiger to the Matterhorn but just before I set off I made the ascent of a Swiss peak called the Schilthorn. This mountain provides a tenuous link to the thriller genre I write now in that it was the film location for one of the classic early James Bond movies “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” which was filmed while the station was still under construction.
The mountain is a shade under ten thousand feet high and rises above the Swiss ski resort of Murren.

Grindelwald to Zermatt 021

The following excerpt is from the book…

A group of hikers, who turned out to be English, materialized from the swirling mists and informed me that it wasn’t far to the hut. They’d taken the cable car to Birg at 2600m and walked down. The way at least that far was easy despite the snow, but they didn’t know what the route to the summit was like and looked at me as if I were slightly mad for going up there on my own in this weather. Onwards up the snow I went and indeed reached a sign in a couple of minutes pointing to the hut just off to the left. From here the way was barred ñ apparently a big avalanche or rock fall had come down and buried the path. I followed the diversion to the left across more snow and all of a sudden a gap in the cloud opened up. The way ahead was clear!

Another steep climb, kicking steps in the snow as I followed the new route up through a remote high valley, brought me back to the main path and the going at once became easier again. Here were two more walkers up ahead but they were the last people I saw. I must say for a mountain that is accessible by cable car, Iíd seen surprisingly few people.
Maybe it was the weather or amount of snow but Iíd have expected more walking downhill if not climbing the peak. They turned out to be an American couple who’d also walked down from Birg, the middle station, which had been visible above as I climbed the valley.

My route now led past a mountain tarn below and to the left, with the cloud revealing a variable amount of the snowy wilderness I headed into. Down beyond the tarn there were occasional glimpses of the Lauterbrunnen valley through the ragged clouds. It was a long, long way down and I was surprised how high I was. The air here was thin and cold and the snow was no longer melting. For a while the Jungfrau was visible again and there was blue sky as if I was emerging above the cloud but as I climbed the mist overtook me once again.

The route was marked by red and white splotches of paint and small cairns here and there, so despite the snow cover, now 6 or more inches deep in places, the way was easy to find. Up and over rocks in short scrambles followed by plods through deep snow. I paused by a rock as I needed the loo, first listening out to see if the cable car was near by. I didn’t want to be caught with my pants down just as the cable car appeared out of the mist, its full load of tourists clicking away on their cameras. The thought of the cable car appearing amused me, it didn’t of course, I’d gone under its path some way back.

As the path steepened great care was needed on the snowy parts but soon sections of fixed rope appeared as the route began to follow the crest of the ridge. Beyond it was a misty white void. I reached a minor summit just as the sun came out. Beyond, the fixed rope led across a narrow section of ridge only a foot or two wide, the summit just beyond, with the famous restaurant clearly visible on top.

I set off across the narrow section, it was a bit like Sharp Edge in the Lake District but the proximity of the cloud tops gave the sensation of walking in the sky. Just to add to the impression of height, as if it needed to, holes in the cloud revealed the Lauterbrunnen valley over 6000 feet below while snow peaks floated dizzily on the fog banks like some great oceanic icebergs on its far side. Below the cloud and much closer at hand was revealed a mysterious high valley with no sign of habitation which disappeared back beneath the cloud layers before I could identify it.

I was soon, with some help from the rope handrail, across this rather exciting section and climbing the rocks on the far side by a series of stone steps hewn out of the rock itself. A last breathless climb brought me onto the summit structure where people milled about looking cold and somewhat the worse for the altitude. The Schilthorn is 2970m or almost 10 000 feet high so a rapid ascent from valley level on the cable car would quite literally take your breath away.
The views from here are famous and extend from the Black Forest in Germany to Mont Blanc but today they didn’t! We appeared to be level with the top of the cloud layer so sometimes the sun shone and some of the nearer mountains were visible then the mist would roll back over us hiding all but this cold airy platform.

There is actually a cinema up here where you can watch James Bond in On Her Majestyís Secret Service which was partly filmed here, this being the location for Piz Gloria; Blofeld’s mountain stronghold. The setting in Fleming’s book was above Pontresina near St Moritz in the East of Switzerland but the Schilthorn towering above the Lauterbrunnen valley is probably the more impressive mountain and has the distinctive restaurant on the summit. They still mention this in the tourist blurb even though it was a good few years ago now but Iíve seen the film, so I didn’t bother this time.

Because of the time, I opted against retracing my steps down, instead taking the easy option of a one way ticket in the cable car safe in the knowledge that out of the population of that dangling metal box I was the only one to have actually climbed the mountain that day…

To be in with a chance of winning A Long Walk in the Alps, just answer this quick question in the comments below;

What is the highest mountain in the European Alps?


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