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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Alpine expedition goes online
Day 10: Interlaken Day 9: The Eiger Day 8: The Wetterhorn Day 7: Gleckstein Day 6: Unteraar galcier Day 5: The Streckhorn Day 4: The Mönch Day 3: The Jungfrau Day 2: Aletsch Day 1: Villa Cassel Day 10: Interlaken Day 9: The Eiger Day 8: The Wetterhorn Day 7: Gleckstein Day 6: Unteraar galcier Day 5: The Streckhorn Day 4: The Mönch Day 3: The Jungfrau Day 2: Aletsch Day 1: Villa Cassel

BBC News Online tracks the route of a group of mountaineers who are braving the Swiss Alps dressed in 19th century costume.

The swissinfo group is retracing some of the most famous routes in the history of Alpine exploration to draw attention to the way mountaineering - and the Alps themselves - have changed.

Click on the links to follow the route, which will be updated daily with e-mail despatches from the climbers - weather permitting! And you also have a chance to ask them questions in a live online forum from the Eiger summit.

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26 August Villa Cassell
Brig to Riederfurka


Villa Cassell/ Keystone
The members of the expedition travel by train from Brig to Mörel, before making the assent to Villa Cassel with the aid of pack animals.

The walk takes about four hours - a distance covered today by cable car in less than 30 minutes.

Villa Cassel was the summer residence of the English banker, Sir Ernest Cassel, one of the most prominent of the late 19th century tourists to the Aletsch region.


Expedition report:


The team sets out with pack horses
First leg kicked off well, although hot weather took its toll.

Tweed jackets were draped over long Alpenstocks as mountaineers suffered 30C temperatures, buckets of sweat pouring down their faces.

Clothing turned three-hour hike into an ordeal. "I thought I was going to explode," said Alison Henry, kitted out in full regalia with hat and ankle-length skirt.

Bernhard Stucky, expedition's only member from Aletsch region remains upbeat, despite the heat.

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27 August - Aletsch glacier
Riederfurka to Konkordia hut (first built in 1877)


Aletsch glacier/ Keystone
The climbers cross the Aletsch glacier, the longest ice field in the Alps.

A pioneering British-led effort to photograph the glacier in 1865 used a teenage boy to carry the camera tripod and fetch the water needed for the photographic plates once they were exposed.

Today the glaciers are rapidly receding.

In an effort to preserve them, Switzerland is bidding to have the region declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.


Expedition report:


The team crosses glacier
Set out at dawn and chose the high route above the Aletsch Forest, before dividing into rope teams for the glacier traverse.

For much of the three-hour march up the glacier, the sound of boots crunching on the ice and guides cutting steps with ice-axes replaced conversation.

After two days of hiking, we reached the Konkordia Hut. We're now in striking distance of our next challenge: the Jungfrau summit.

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28 August - The Jungfrau
Konkordia hut to Mönchsjoch hut (with attempt to ascend Jungfrau 4,158m)


Ascending the Jungfrau in 19th C/ Heimatmuseum Grindelwald
The party will cross Konkordiaplatz and make its way up the Jungfraufirn - the ice field that extends down from the Jungfrau and Mönch to join the Aletsch.

Weather conditions permitting, the party will turn west to make an ascent on the Jungfrau.

The Jungfrau was first climbed by two Swiss brothers from canton Aargau in 1811, who first had to identify the peak.

Among the equipment of one successful ascent in 1828, were three ladders, 84 fathoms of rope, a gun, and an iron flag.

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29 August - The Mönch
Mönchsjoch hut to Bergli hut (with attempt on Mönch summit 4,099m)


Ascending the Monch in 19th C/ Heimatmuseum Grindelwald
The group ascends the Mönch in a climb that takes about three hours, but is only 400 metres from the hut to the summit.

In 1853 a Russian princess led an unsuccessful expedition to reach the summit. It was finally conquered four years later by the German Sigismund Porges.

Leaving the summit, the swissinfo team will head to the Bergli hut, built more than 3,000 metres high in 1883 at the top of deeply crevassed slopes.


Expedition report:


The team shakes hands before setting off
Left the Konkordia Hut at 3am under brilliant starry sky. Following bout of altitude sickness, team member Alison Henry was forced to skip today's climb up to Jungfrau summit at 4,158 metres above sea level.

Long-handled ice axes doubled as convenient walking sticks while crossing glaciers, but proved cumbersome on steep slopes leading up the Jungfrau.

Indulged in traditional champagne celebration on reaching summit and planted a fir tree in honour of the first climbing team to reach the top in 1811.

Bedded down early for the night in preparation for arduous ascent of Mönch (4,099 metres), our second serious challenge in 24 hours.

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30 August - The Streckhorn
Bergli hut to Schreckhorn hut


The Bergli hut in 19th C/ Heimatmuseum Grindelwald
The climbers take the Jungfrau railway, built in 1912, under the Mönch summit.

The railway was an unparalleled engineering feat in its day, and made the world of glaciers and high peaks accessible to the public.

The party then crosses the Challiband by foot, passing the Eiger caves, which served as a bivouac before the Bergli hut was built.

Finally they cross over the Fiescher and Eismeer glaciers to arrive at the Schreckhorn hut, lying 1,500 metres below the Schreckhorn summit.

The Schreckhorn was first climbed by Sir Leslie Stephen in 1861, who described how he sat down to "enjoy a pipe and the beauties of nature" at the top.


Expedition report:

The team take the train
Bad weather kept the team on the train
Bad weather forced team to abandon its planned route to the Schreckhorn hut. Instead, descended by rail to the Kleine Scheidegg, after struggling through fog and falling snow.

Bad weather delayed departure by three hours, and forced a change of plan to avoid being stranded at high altitudes.

Instead of climbing the Schreckhorn, team descended to the lower Mönchsjoch, following the sound of a chainsaw through the fog and falling snow.

From there, headed to the Jungfraujoch station and civilisation. The multi-levelled complex, with souvenir kiosks and sterile self-service restaurants, proved something of a culture shock. The night before was spent in the rustic and cosy conditions of a mountain hut - sustained by hot tea made from melted ice.

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August 31 - Unteraar glacier
Schreckhorn hut to Lauteraar hut (with attempt on Strahlegghorn 3,461m)


The Schreckhorn peak/ swiss-image
The climbers will cross the Strahlegg Pass, making a two-and-a-half hour detour to ascend the Strahlegghorn.

During a crossing of the pass in 1859, a well-known Grindelwald guide is said to have casually thrown one end of his party's rope loosely over his shoulder in order to have a free hand to carry the folded crinoline of his female employer.

The Unteraar Glacier area was the scene of groundbreaking glacier research in the first half of the 19th century.

The first permanent accommodation was built above the Unteraar Glacier in 1843.


Expedition report:

Kleine Scheidegg
The view from Kleine Scheidegg was misty

More bad weather kept climbers off the mountain.

Headed off to Grindelwald on trail of 19th century climber and mountaineer, W A B Coolidge.

Then five-hour hike to Hotel Faulhorn, built 1830, on summit of Faulhorn (2680m).

Rain turned to snow as we arrived. Hot drinks all round.

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1 September - Gleckstein
Lauteraar hut to Gleckstein hut:


Crossing glaciers to Lauteraar Hut/ Heimatmuseum Grindelwald
On their way north the party visit the Gleckstein bivouac, which was used before the first hut was built in 1880.

The first British tourist to climb the Wetterhorn, Sir Alfred Wills, described in 1854 how he camped at Gleckstein, and took a bath in a nearby glacial stream that "was icy-cold, but did me more good than a weary night in the hole".

Less than 30 years after the hut was built, Europe's first cable car went into operation, connecting Grindelwald with the trail just below the hut.


Expedition report:

After a long week of climbing and trekking through snow drifts, spent night in historic Alpine hotel first built in 1832.

Checking the weather
It looks like stormy weather
Rooms came complete with bedpans and water jugs!

Refreshed after good night's sleep, set off for two-hour march through driving snow and rain towards Grosse Scheidegg Pass.

Avalanches could be heard in near distance but remained hidden by thick fog.

Rain turned to snow as we climbed above 2,000-metre level and arrived at our home for the night - the Gleckstein Hut at the foot of the Wetterhorn.

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The Wetterhorn
2 September - Gleckstein hut to Hotel Bellevue on the Kleine Scheidegg pass (possible ascent of Wetterhorn)


In front of the Gleckstein hut/ Heimatmuseum Grindelwald

Sir Alfred Wills' ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854, which he mistakenly believed was the first, marked the beginning of the so-called "Golden Age" of mountaineering.

From that time on, climbing as sport became fashionable.

The five to six-hour climb from Gleckstein is now one of the most popular climbs in the area.

After the climb, the party takes the train from Grindelwald village to the Hotel Bellevue - a large inn that was built before the railway.

Visitors to the Bellevue include Lord Byron, Sir Leslie Stephen and Karl Marx and Frederich Engels.


Expedition report:

Fresh snowfall on Wetterhorn at 3,701 metres forces change of plans as assault on summit proves too dangerous.

Philip Martineau shaving
Philip Martineau went for an al fresco shave
Team member Philip Martineau braves ice-cold temperature of nearby mountain stream to wash close to the spot where his ancestor, Sir Alfred Wills, took an early morning bath before tackling the summit in 1854.

Embark on climb to top of Chrinnenhorn, 1,000 metres below Wetterhorn summit, and are lucky enough to catch sight of ibex as we trudge back down through the snow.

Overnight at Kleine Scheidegg and pray snow will lift in time to tackle Eiger in the morning.

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3 September - The Eiger
Kleine Scheidegg to Eiger summit 3,970 m and return to Kleine Scheidegg


Kleine Scheidegg pass and Mount Eiger/ swiss-image
The group takes the same route to the top of the Eiger that an inexperienced Englishman and his two Grindelwald guides used in 1858 in claiming the peak for the first time.

The climb from Kleine Scheidegg takes about eight hours.

Although this is considered the ordinary route, there is danger of falling rock and the path is difficult to find in fog.

Les Swindin describes the flank that the route follows as resembling "a tiled roof covered in debris".


Expedition report:

Heavy snow once again forces us to abandon planned Eiger assault, so team decides at sunrise to attempt rock climb over Rotstock located at foot of Eiger's west flank.

Alpine team view the Bernese Oberland trio of peaks: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
The team takes in the breathtaking view Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.

Greeted by sunshine upon reaching Rotstock ridge and enjoyed views of celebrated Bernese Oberland trio of peaks: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Sporadic icefalls thundered down the rocks as we made our descent to Kleine Scheidegg, where we found rooms at 19th century Bellevue-Des Alpes Hotel.

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4 September - Interlaken
Rail journey from Kleine Scheidegg to Interlaken and grand hotel Victoria-Jungfrau


Victoria-Jungfrau grand hotel
The party returns to Grindelwald by rail, and then travels on to Interlaken.

From Grindelwald the trip takes about 30 minutes.

In 1838 it took more than four hours by horse-drawn carriage.

The sprawling resort of Interlaken still attracts tourists in their thousands - many of them British.

The group spends the final night in the Victoria-Jungfrau grand hotel, built in 1865, to accomodate wealthy tourists.


Expedition report:

Alp-horn players
Alp-horn players greet the team at the journey's end
Final day of expedition and a change of pace as we take the train to Interlaken and are met by horse-drawn carriage!

Bliss to be pulled through the streets after ten days of climbing and trekking through the mountains.

Alp-horn players greet us as we arrive at Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel in time for champagne reception to mark end of expedition.

Mixed emotions as group realises the trip is over - time to hang up our 19th century ice-axes and pack away our tweed breeches for the last time.

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