Writeups of each day are here. I’ll eventually get around to scanning in some map fragments, too.
Swiss O Week was definitely the best orienteering holiday I’ve been on. The location was superb, the weather was amazing, Switzerland is a great country to holiday in, and the orienteering wasn’t bad either. Not quite as technical as Lithuania, but certainly more scenic. Orienteering in the heart of the alps, across the alpine meadows, steep forests and glacial debris was a real experience.
The afternoons were generally given over to touristy things. While some did some serious hiking, many of us (including myself) were content to take the nearest cable car, cog-wheel railway or gondola up some mountain. The Klein Matterhorn cable car summit station, at 3800m above sea-level, is the highest I’ve ever been on land.
We were very lucky with the weather – the Alps were a lot more forgiving than my previous holiday there five years ago. Every morning, the sky would be blue and the Matterhorn would look just like it does on a bar of Toblerone. A few clouds would appear in the sky in the afternoon, and a cooling breeze would start. Then, in the evening, a distant thunderstorm would rumble, cooling down the air (it did rain, once, on the last evening.) The next morning, everything would be “reset” back to the blue sky. The temperature was pleasantly moderate – hot enough to sunbathe in, but not oppressively hot like London, or the rest of the Europe at sea-level, was suffering last week.
One thing that sticks in my mind are the dry alpine pastures, heaving with grasshoppers. Everywhere you stepped, the grass would become alive with the insects leaping away. They are harmless, of course, and it was nice to have no midges, mosquitoes or ticks – Zermatt, at 1600m altitude, is too high up for these critters.
My only regret is that I wasn’t well enough for the street race (the fifth day of the event.) Zermatt’s winding streets, open grass fields and complete lack of cars, would have provided a compelling racing experience. I’ll have to content myself with Oxford’s own street race, later this year.
Stopping off at Montreux and Geneva on the way back was a bonus. The Montreux Grand Prix happened to be on the same time that I was in town. And Geneva, with it’s old-town streets, water fountains and cosmopolitan people, was a delight to walk through – even if it was a little too hot.
HAM (Men’s A-Standard, Medium Distance) – Top 7 UK/IE Results
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