Thursday, December 04, 2014

Standing Strong




Our recent post about black and white photos stirred some creative juices and prompted Eileen Burns, Ryder-Walker’s managing director, to send over this photo.

Eileen’s dad was a professional photographer, so Eileen grew up around images and developed a particular love for black and white. It’s not surprising then, that Eileen would choose b&w to shoot this photo of RW guest Margo Rubenstein on the last day of our Slovenia Triglav Circuit.

Eileen writes, “This photo says a lot to me. A bit tired and disheveled. Yet standing strong. I love the worn out poles just hanging and relaxing after a good trek."

She adds, “The stairs kind of speak to the trail that we took that day, broken and yet very sturdy.”

Do you have photos from past treks that speak to you? Please share them. Send us a note or post them to our Facebook page.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beauty is Black and White



Or at least it can be, as demonstrated by these photos taken by Ryder-Walker guides Dave Gruss and Willi Glanznig. Dave shot the above photo this past summer while hiking with guests in the Engadine region of eastern Switzerland.

Veteran Engadine travelers should have no trouble recognizing this shot. It’s a view of the village of Sils Maria (center of the photo). The lake in the foreground is called the Silvaplanersee (Lej da Silvaplauna in Romansh) and the lake in the background is called the Silsersee (Lej da Segl). What is Romansh? It’s a Latin dialect left over from the original Roman settlements known collectively as Rhaetia Prima. It’s also one of the four official languages of Switzerland, though only about 0.5% of the population speak it today.

Continuing with the photo, the village at the far end of the photograph is called Maloja. From there, a two-lane road carries travelers over the Maloja pass (1,815 meters), and down a spaghetti-like series of switchbacks into the wild and remote Val Bregalia. One of our favorite mountains in the Val Bregalia is the Piz Badile (3,305 meters)—the subject of the next photo:


Just imagine yourself sitting on a patio, in the perfectly preserved 1,000 year-old village of Soglio, gazing up at this peak. We do it every summer on our Engadine Trek and Engadine Summit Series hikes. It’s the kind of thing that makes you glad to be alive.

Speaking of patios, we offer you this photo:


These are the famous Aiguilles (needles) of Chamonix. Willi shot this photo while hiking our Tour du Mont Blanc.

It is a very special experience to relax at a street side cafĂ© in Chamonix and send your eyes upward, across 12,000 feet, to the summit of Mont Blanc. The sheer number of mountain peaks surrounding Mont Blanc, the magnitude of the scenery, the jaggedness and myriad serrations of the rock; it’s almost more than a person can stand. Which leads to this:

I love looking at these photos in black and white. Some could argue that the emotions I feel are just nostalgia for a bygone era, a time when the spark of nascent alpinism ignited a world of discovery and geographical firsts. Others might say that I viewed too many black and white photos when I was child. My father was an antique dealer after all!

All of this is true, but there’s something else at work here.

Why do we continue to shoot black and white photos (a clearly outdated technology) when high definition cameras allow us to capture color better than ever before? Why do we throw Instagram filters on golden sunsets when the rods and cones in our eyes give us an all-access pass to ROYGBIV?

It’s because black and white photography is proof positive that after you strip way the color, when you delete the pixels and trash the hexadecimal codes, the beauty of the world remains. Life is beautiful, and nature is worth remembering no matter how we choose to represent it. The first Impressionists knew this. They shocked the world by demonstrating that when we think we've erased the details—when we distill our lives into a collection of tiny dots and strokes—we just need to step back to see that the beauty of the world is still there.

Digital photographs are modern impressionist works. They are millions of tiny dots, each one representing a point of light that bounced off some object and found its way into a camera lens and onto our screens. What we choose to do with those dots is up to us, but one fact remains. Nature will always inspire us, even when we view those dots in black and white.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Open Letter To Swedes



If you’re Swedish, then you need to book a hiking/golfing tour in the American Southwest with Ryder-Walker, and you need to do it now.

This sage advice comes from Daniel Sundqvist, our trip development director, who recently led a hiking and golfing tour in the Desert Southwest.

Daniel writes:
Ryder-Walker came up with a crazy new concept to satisfy the hunger for anyone intrigued by hiking and playing golf. 
During the first week of November we went to St. George, Utah—a time of year when temperatures reliably reach the mid 70's (20+ degrees Celsius) during the day. This is the time of year when American national parks, as well as golf courses, really lend themselves to exploration.
Together with friends/guests from Australia, the sublime weather conditions motivated us to play 18 holes and hike 6-8 miles each day for a week. That turned out to be equivalent of 12-16 miles each day, leaving us with absolutely no daylight left by the 18th hole!
Anyone who has a hard time getting out in November for their training (this means you, Swedes!) should immediately book a flight to Saint George and get blessed.
Don’t let the cold days and dark nights of northern latitudes get you down. Contact Ryder-Walker for more info concerning our new hiking/golfing adventures in the sunny Southwest. Better yet, ask to speak with Daniel Sundqvist directly. He’ll give you a few tips that will help you up your game.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Myths and Mountains in Nepal



Here’s a great story about trekking through the Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang in Nepal by the New York Times.

Why is the Mustang Kingdom Forbidden? You'll have to read the story to find out:

THE tale begins with a demon.

Centuries ago, it destroyed the foundations of a Buddhist monastery under construction in central Tibet. Then Guru Rinpoche, who had brought Buddhism to the kingdom, pursued the demon west, deep into Mustang. The two fought among Mustang’s snow peaks, desert canyons and grasslands. Guru Rinpoche prevailed, and he scattered the demon’s body parts across Mustang: its blood formed towering red cliffs, and its intestines tumbled to the wind-scoured earth east of the cliffs...

Click here to read the full NYT story.

FYI: Our hiking tour through Nepal’s Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang runs May 23-June 9, 2015.

Guests have already signed up, so this trip is definitely on. Renowned explorer and photographer Ace Kvale will lead the tour in concert with local guides and sherpas from the Kingdom of Mustang.

Have you ever dreamed of hiking through Nepal? Now is your chance! Please contact us to register, or for more info regarding this trip.

Image credit: Prayer wheels by Ace Kvale.
http://www.acekvale.com/

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This is why you want to go to Slovenia!




Here's a nice story about our Slovenia Triglav Circuit, (one of our most popular European hiking tours) and the vibrant Slovenian city of Ljubljana.

Ryder-Walker’s managing director, Eileen Burns, visited Slovenia for the first time during our fall trip. The story offers a few of Eileen’s first impressions.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out our Facebook page to see more of Eileen’s photos from the trip. Click on the album titled Slovenia: Hiking across the Julian Alps 2014.



Thank you Maribeth for writing this piece! Background: Maribeth Clemente, widely known for her popular French guide books including; The Riches of Paris, The Riches of France, and A Tour of the Heart, is also the founder/editor of bonjourcolorado.com and the host of KOTO's popular travel program, Travel Fun. Check out her work when you get a chance. It's good stuff!

Image: Slovenia Triglav Circuit. By Eileen Burns 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Read Our New 2015 Catalog Online



Our new 2015 hiking tour catalog hits mailboxes this week!  Can't wait for the mail carrier?  No problem. You can also view our 2015 catalog onlinehttp://ryderwalker.com/catalog_2015/

Flip through like a magazine. Zoom in. Print out a copy or download a pdf if you like.

Note: This catalog is bigger and better than ever before. You'll find award winning trips, insightful tips, feature stories and more.  A taste of what's inside:

Peter Walker talks about Ryder-Walker's green initiatives and our new solar installation on page four. 

Eileen Burns, RW's managing director, interviews head guide Ken Fuhrer and explores his nearly 20 years of "Swisscentric"exploration and adventure with Ryder-Walker on page five.

Ryder-Walker's trip development director, Daniel Sundqvist, explains how finding nickel at age five sparked a lifetime of high mountain discovery and trip development on page nine.

Finally, Ryder-Walker's communication director and trip leader, Chris Pranskatis "Chris P.", talks trekking poles on page 63. 

Enjoy our new catalog. Please share with your friends and, as always, let us know what you think. 

Cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Climb a 14er and Support a Great Cause!



Tune into KOTO Radio (Telluride, CO) tonight at 6:20 pm mountain time to learn about the 14er ascent that we recently donated to KOTO’s fundraising campaign. What’s a “fourteener?” It’s any mountain greater than 14,000 feet above sea level, and we’re lucky enough to have a handful of them in our backyard in Telluride, Colorado.

Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures, in conjunction with our sister company, Telluride Mountain Guides, donated a day trip to the top of a fourteener, (a $600 value). Your cost is just half-price-$300. Best of all, all the proceeds go to our community supported radio station KOTO.

Not into bagging peaks? That’s ok too. You can substitute your fourteener climb with a backcountry ski or ice climbing excursion.

Maribeth Clemente, host of KOTO’s popular Travel Fun radio program, will talk about our donation in addition to all the wonderful adventure travel companies based in Telluride (and their donations) on tonight’s show.

Tune in tonight. You can stream online http://tunein.com/radio/KOTO-917-s34580/ or listen with your old-fashioned transistor radio; 91.7 and 89.3 FM in Telluride, 89.5 FM in Norwood or 105.5 FM Down Valley. Check out koto.org for more details.

Photo: Telluride and the stunning San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. By Ken Fuhrer.