For our second instalment of our hiking guide we enlisted Gumbies ambassadors Alex & Charlotte who live in the Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt.
Both are passionate about the mountains and enjoy the wealth of activities on offer in both summer and winter. They are both keen hikers and have their own blog reviewing some of the glorious hikes around the Swiss Alps.
Who better to put our new Scramblers to the test!
Before we find out how our Scrambler performed over the rugged mountains of Zermatt let's get to know a little about Alex & Charlotte.
Hi guys, how long have you lived in Zermatt?
Alex: 4 years, since the 17/18 winter.
Which season do you prefer, winter or summer?
Alex: It’s close, but it's winter.
Charlotte: It’s such a tough one, I love both, but I think summer wins very slightly. I love the long, warm days and the variety of activities on offer.
What has been your favourite hike so far?
Alex: The hike we did to Riffelalp last October when I proposed to Charlotte.
Charlotte: The hike to Grünsee, it’s such a beautiful clear lake to swim in and the trail goes from dense trees to vast open mountains.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen on a hike?
A couple of years ago, during the winter, we saw a Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), a huge bird with an average wingspan of 8ft.
Although we have been on the lookout for an Ibex as there are lots around this time of year but so far we haven’t been lucky.
You have a new blog, tell us a bit about it?
Alex: So our blog is over at www.thewhitepeakcollection.com/blog and it’s part of The White Peak Collection, which is our new platform where we offer our Skiing and Travel Advice services, channel our love for the mountains and share our adventures. Our blog so far talks about Zermatt, hiking and mental health. We can’t wait to share more about living in the Swiss Alps, from skiing and rock climbing to our recommendations for places to visit!
I know you have a background with a mental health charity who help people connect with the mountains - tell us a bit about it?
Charlotte: I’ve previously worked in a mental health hospital as well as experiencing my own struggles around mental health. From those experiences I am hugely passionate about mental health recovery and the effect the mountains and nature can have on that. Although they are not cures, they can provide a great space to connect, ground, exercise and breathe, aiding someone in their recovery or simply contributing to the well-being of anyone who needs that space. For this reason we have decided to raise money for a charity that promotes just that, they’re called Blackdog Outdoors, in the Autumn we will be selling our headbands with 100% of the profits going to this charity.
Zermatt looks amazing with plenty to offer in both Summer and Winter - what advice can you give to anyone wanting to spend some time in the mountains?
Alex: You’re absolutely right, Zermatt is great regardless of what season you want to visit in, there’s so much to see and the difference between the seasons is just stunning. If you’re thinking of visiting Zermatt, or anywhere in Switzerland, we have just launched our Free Travel Advice Service over at thewhitepeakcollection.com, so get in touch and we can help make your Swiss adventure one to remember.
Charlotte: I think the mountains, especially in the summer, isn’t the first place people think of to travel to but it is such a special, breath-taking place to be; from the lakes and the waterfalls, to the beautiful tree lined trails with glorious sunshine, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The contrast between the winter and summer is huge, it never gets boring and you don’t have to be sporty or active to enjoy the scenery with gondola rides to the top of the mountain, restaurants scattered all around and some pretty luxurious spas, there’s so much to enjoy.
Ok - so how were the Scramblers …
How many miles have you clocked up so far?
Was it refreshing having your feet open to the elements?
Alex: It was, with the hot weather we’ve had recently, it’s been great to get back from a hike and not have hot and swollen feet.
Charlotte: Absolutely! For our local trails, particularly the workout route that has about 10 workout stations (pull up bar, balance beam etc) to stop at, the scramblers were perfect. Surprisingly, I also found they were the ideal hot weather shoe for walking into town. Sometimes flip flops aren’t sufficient for the amount of walking you can do in car-free Zermatt so these added an extra level of coolness and comfort.
On a comfort level how did they do?
Alex: I’ll admit I was dubious at first about hiking in sandals, I’m normally a trail running trainer kind of guy in the summer, but I’ve been really impressed with how comfortable the straps are and how grippy the soles are.
Charlotte: Initially I thought the straps might rub and I thought on a hike or walking around town I’d have some red marks, but nothing! In Zermatt it’s really easy to clock up the miles just running errands and none of my other sandals can withstand a trip to and around town without causing me discomfort, never mind taking them on the uneven hiking trails.