Women on the mountain.  Participants in the 100% Women Peak Challenge.

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Intro

The 100% Women Peak Challenge gives female mountaineers in Switzerland greater prominence and establishes role models. We are introducing the first participants to the challenge and are already looking forward to seeing their summit selfies. Below you’ll find insights into the history of women’s mountaineering in Switzerland and information about Switzerland’s 4,000m peaks.

The aim is that women should be able to achieve their full potential in Switzerland – including in mountain sports. That’s what 100% Women is all about.
Letizia Elia, Head of Business Development at Switzerland Tourism

Participants in the 100% Women Peak Challenge.

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Beatrice Egli, Switzerland

The Swiss pop singer is a passionate hiker and nature-lover. As a newcomer to alpine climbing, she describes the ascent of the Matterhorn in July 2021 as “a lifelong dream and one of the greatest challenges of my career”. Beatrice Egli’s aim is to motivate other women who have not yet dared to test their skill in the mountains to push themselves in Switzerland’s mountain landscape. 

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Olivia Jane Wood, United Kingdom

On July the 22nd, 1871, Lucy Walker became the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn. Climbing firmly against the grain, Lucy was undeterred by the stiff Victorian attitude of the day - and at a time when a woman's place was still seen as firmly in the home, she made it to the top of the 4,478 metre peak in style, fuelled by a diet of champagne and sponge cake. Exactly 150 years later - to the day - British mountaineer Olivia Jane is set to pay homage to Lucy's pioneering expedition, following in Lucy's footsteps (and footholds) to summit Switzerland's most notorious peak.

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Caroline George, mountain guide and adviser on the Peak Challenge

Caroline is passionate about all activities in the mountains. For the past 15 years she has worked as a mountain guide all over the world, from Antarctica to Norway and North America to the Alps. She has been a professional athlete for even longer, and is happiest when climbing frozen waterfalls. She is always on the lookout for like-minded women with whom to share her passion, and is excited about the 100% Women Peak Challenge, which will bring even more women to the mountains. Caroline has worked with women all over the world, inspiring them to push themselves to their limits in the mountains, and is currently the leader of the SAC Women’s Expedition Team. She has a young daughter and lives in the canton of Valais.  

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Caro North, Switzerland

Steep, long and extreme: Mammut Pro Team athlete Caro North enjoys a challenge. She’s at home in the mountains in summer or winter and is happy to share her enthusiasm with others. A professional mountaineer, she has already made impressive ascents in the Yosemite Valley, Chamonix and the Himalayas. Caro North and a colleague were also the first women’s rope team to take on Cerro Torre in Patagonia.  

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Caja Schöpf, Germany

An outdoor athlete, sports psychologist, public speaker, sports model and former German professional freestyle skier: we’re speaking about none other than the versatile Caja Schöpf. Born in Bavaria, the mountains are in her blood. She is at home in a variety of terrains and now wants to venture into the Swiss mountains to experience the same feelings of exhilaration as her great-great-grandmother, who climbed the Matterhorn and all the other 4,000m peaks in Switzerland in 1903. 

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Raha Moharrak, Saudi Arabia

Raha is a Saudi Arabian mountaineer. Curious even as a small child, she dreamed of adventure and of seeing the world and perhaps even changing it. She is the first Saudi woman and the youngest Arab woman to climb Mount Everest. As part of the Seven Summits Challenge, she has climbed with the Aconcagua, Mount Vinson, Kala Patthar, Mount Elbrus, Iztaccihuatl, Pico de Orizaba the highest peaks on all seven continents. For the 100% Women Peak Challenge, she aims to tackle the highest peak in Switzerland, the Dufourspitze.

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Chemmy Alcott, United Kingdom

As a four-time Olympian and the only British female skier to ever win a run in a World Cup, Chemmy Alcott is widely regarded as one of the greatest British skiers of all time. She pioneered a skiing movement that has inspired an entire generation. In addition to working as a commentator for BBC Ski Sunday, she has supported various charities by participating in the World’s Toughest Ski Race in Greenland and climbing Kilimanjaro. By participating in this demanding Peak Challenge, she is once again pushing herself to her limits and encouraging other women to set and achieve ambitious goals.

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Nadine Wallner, Austria

In 2013, the Austrian freerider was the youngest athlete at the time to win the world champion title on the Freeride World Tour and was also crowned champion in 2014. In addition, Mammut Pro Team athlete Nadine Wallner devotes herself to various video projects of her own, demonstrating her skills in climbing and trail running sports – always with the aim of enjoying every moment in the fabulous mountain world and sharing these moments with good friends. 

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Johanna Ratschiller, Italy

Johanna grew up in South Tyrol and has always had a passion for the mountains. She is happiest on skis in winter and climbing high, steep rock walls in summer. While studying sports science in Innsbruck, she also graduated as a climbing instructor and began training the South Tyrolean junior squad. Joey shows her fighting spirit in both climbing and mountain adventures, and is constantly looking for new challenges.

Ada Jaszczynska, Poland/Switzerland

Until 2016, Ada Jaszczynska was responsible for organising the Freeride Film Festival in Poland. Her love for the mountains led her to Switzerland via Munich. As a sponsorship and event manager at Mammut Sports Group AG, she loves helping athletes achieve their goals, pursuing exciting projects with cooperation partners and coordinating events. Ada has a predilection for demanding alpine ski runs and breathtaking, deserted mountain landscapes.

Florence Gross, Switzerland

Fribourg-born Florence Gross is a freelance camerawoman and photographer and works on national and international projects. She is an enthusiastic and experienced mountaineer with a passion for storytelling. As part of the 100% Women Peak Challenge, she will accompany the first ski tour up three 4,000m peaks in March and produce associated content. 

Liv Sansoz, France

Two-time world climbing champion and three-time World Cup winner Liv Sansoz is at home on the rock face. She quells her insatiable appetite for the mountains with extraordinary feats. She recently climbed all 82 4,000-metre peaks in the Alps. In her projects, Liv strives to work respectfully with the mountains in order to preserve them for future generations. She is now taking her passion for peaks even further by training as a mountain guide at ENSA in Chamonix.

Looking back on the history of female mountaineers.

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Intro

For the most part, it was men who shaped the history of alpinism – but not exclusively. Women have also been delivering top performances in the Alps since the 19th century. And often under difficult conditions (in skirts or harem trousers), with no social acceptance and limited opportunities to report on their experiences.

The first half of the 19th century saw an upsurge in mountaineering, as Alpine tourism became increasingly developed. In particular, upper-class Englishmen travelled the Swiss Alps with the goal of a first ascent. The years 1854 to 1865 were the golden age of alpinism, with more and more demanding Alpine peaks being climbed. In 1865, the era reached its high point with the first ascent of the Matterhorn by Edward Whymper. The US American Meta Brevoort and British woman Lucy Walker were both considered contenders for the first female ascent of the Matterhorn. In the summer of 1871, young Lucy secured her success just ahead of her American rival.

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Zermatt, Lucy Walker

Elizabeth Burnaby Main Le Blond

She successfully made the first ascent of the east summit of the Bishorn in Valais. The British woman was an enthusiastic mountaineer, undertaking more than 130 grand tours from 1881 onwards, including 26 first ascents and 11 first winter ascents. In 1907, she was the driving force behind the founding of the British Ladies Alpine Club and became its first president.  

From the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Loulou Boulaz (1908-1991) was one of the outstanding female mountaineers in the Alpine region in the 1930s and 40s, both on rock and ice. Her most important first ascent was the Zinalrothorn north face in Valais with her climbing partner Pierre Bonnant. A staunch feminist, she came from a working-class background and was already committed to women’s rights in the 1920s.  

Betty Favre (1918-1977)

From the end of the 1930s, this woman from Fribourg was a passionate and successful climber for almost forty years. Together with her husband Ernest Favre, she repeated the most difficult routes in the Fribourg Gastlosen and opened various new ones – particularly in the Vaud Alps.

Betty Favre on the lead climb in the Gastlosen.
  • In 1863, the Swiss Alpine Club SAC was founded.
  • In 1907, after much debate, women were actively excluded from the SAC, which led to the founding of the Swiss Women’s Alpine Club in 1918.
  • In 1980, the Swiss Alpine Club merged with the Swiss Women’s Alpine Club.
  • 40% of all SAC members are currently women, with this figure rising to 48% among new members.
The aim of the Peak Challenge is to encourage female climbers to take the initiative and discover the mountains together with other women.
Françoise Jaquet, President of the Swiss Alpine Club 
  • In 1906, the Swiss Mountain Guide Association was founded.
  • In 1986, Nicole Niquille was the first Swiss woman to receive a mountain guide diploma.
  • There are 1,556 mountain guides in Switzerland in 2021. Of these, just 42 are women.
  • 2020 Today, 42 of 1,556 mountain guides are women. Since November 2020, the Association has for the first time had a female president.
As a mountain guide, I have often experienced how female climbers can be more relaxed tackling challenges as part of a women’s rope team.
Rita Christen, President of the Swiss Mountain Guide Association 

The crowning glory of the Alps.  Switzerland has 48 peaks above 4,000m. No two are the same.

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  • There are 41 4,000m peaks  in Valais, some of which are shared with Italy.
  • There are four 4,000m peaks on the Valais/Bern cantonal border: the Jungfrau, the Mönch, the Grosses Fiescherhorn and the Finsteraarhorn
  • There are two 4,000m peaks exclusively on Bernese soil: the Schreckhorn and the Lauteraarhorn
  • There is one 4,000m peak in Graubünden: Piz Bernina