The scenery is breathtaking. You go along the immense expanse of water in the middle of the coniferous forest then the river, and then walk up to the foot of the Diablerets massif. This July 22, in the Derborence valley, in the Swiss Alps, a small group of women listen to the sounds from the top of the peaks: water, birds, wind, their own footsteps. There are seven, including the mountain guide and a singer-guitarist.
“It’s about having the least impact on these spaces, taking care of them”, explains the Swiss Virginie Thurre, 46, organizer of the event. The founder of Échappées, an agency specializing in feminist mountain walks, dedicates her summer to these excursions.
For several days he led a trek in the Grisons, to discover the lakes of the Poschiavo valley and the exploits of forgotten mountaineers; an excursion in the Goms valley in the footsteps of the witches Trina and Nesa, burned in 1466; a walk in the footsteps of traveler, journalist and ski champion Ella Maillart …
“I just wanted to create something that could be a ‘resource space’ for women, a beneficial place where everyone could have access to stories that aren’t being told. ” Although some excursions are for same-sex people, most men welcome – ” not alpha males, but men who question their place and their masculinity “, she specifies.
A desire for heights
The idea for these excursions came to Virginie Thurre in the midst of a health crisis. Social worker, she is then in the process of retraining, in Val d’Anniviers (in Valais) to become a mountain guide. During her training, it is only about the value achieved by men.
Despised and derided by their peers, the women, expelled from the Swiss Alpine Club in 1907, practiced mountaineering on their own, founding their own organization in 1918. The two clubs finally merged in 1980. “I would have liked someone to tell me about the first exclusively female consortium, underlines the guide. I want to make these unknowns known, to say what they have achieved and brought as knowledge into this universe. “
Create Echappées after giving birth in 2020. The team is woven according to the matches. They are anthropologists, musicians, researchers, herbalists… all women, all mountain lovers and all feminists.
Hiking has never been more popular. Is it the Covid-19 pandemic that has strengthened the desire for heights, for clean air? According to a survey published in December 2021 by Union Sport & Cycle, the professional federation of the sector, 56% of respondents said they had practiced hiking and walking for leisure in the last twelve months (compared to 37% in 2014). And there are many women on the trails.
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