Meeting Mountain Magic

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in Blog, Trail to Salamanca

Meeting Mountain Magic


Mont Blanc is the highest and most famous peak in the Great Mountain Corridor that forms part of the Trail to Salamanca

5 June 2013: Trail to Salamanca update by Geoff Dalglish

Reinhold Messner, the greatest climber in history,  summed it up: “Mountains are not fair or unfair, they’re just dangerous.”

But that daunting reality certainly didn’t discourage him. The 68-year-old Italian is remembered as the first to summit Mount Everest solo without supplemental oxygen; the first to climb all 14 of the planet’s peaks above 8 000-metres; also pioneering a solo ascent of Mont Blanc back in 1969.

It took nine hours to scale the north face of Mont Blanc’s legendary Les Droites peak more than four decades ago, while Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck managed the superhuman feat in just 2 hours and 8 minutes in 2010.

I’m awe-struck, and especially at the idea that more than two centuries ago local Chamonix guide Jacques Balmat made history by being the first to stand on the 4 810-metre summit, the highest in the Alps and today’s European Union. That was in 1786 when the clothing seemed astonishingly inappropriate and inadequate for such an epic and extreme challenge.

These neighbouring peaks are the company that Mont Blanc keeps

Fast-forward to 2013 and I feel like a coward and a cheat: I go up the easy way and it still scares me. I pay my 50 Euros and in the space of a few minutes I’m whisked to the lofty Aiguille du Midi viewing platform, coming face-to-face with the astonishing beauty of the mountain and re-discovering my own fear of heights. I was sure I’d conquered those butterflies in the stomach with more than 30 abseils, including the world’s highest single-drop commercial abseil, but there it is again, although on this perfect morning nothing can compromise the magic of the moment.

Mont Blanc offers views to inspire poets, writers, adventurers and every nature lover – so it comes as no surprise that conservationists like Barbara Ehringhaus, who was one of the eloquent and passionate speakers at the launch of the Trail to Salamanca, has devoted so much energy to campaigning for the preservation of the massif.

Walking pilgrim Geoff Dalglish does it the easy way, being whisked up in a cable car

She and many others who celebrate it’s towering presence wish to see it honoured and protected with World Heritage Site status.

It’s a highpoint – figuratively and literally – in the Great Mountain Corridor that makes up part of the Trail to Salamanca, linking four major mountain ranges and six countries along the 2 500km trek to the venue of the WILD10 congress that will be held between October 4 and 10.

What a privilege to be part of this amazing initiative!

Travelling back down in the cable-car I watch paragliders returning to Earth on the currents and try to imagine what it might be like leaping off the top while wearing one of those aerodynamic wingsuits inspired by nature. Then speeds of up to 150 km/h would be reached, but still that pales beside the feats of our feathered friends. Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds on the planet and have been timed at more than 300 km/h in steep hunting dives!


  1. Thank you Geoff for his update. We follow your steps and adventure with delight.Next time you should fly down paragliding! See you in Salamanca

    • Paragliding looks so awesome. I’ll have to try it someday soon …

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