Lowest To The Highest – Switzerland

June 3, 2023

Alpinist and Favre Leuba ambassador Nicolas Hojac consistently seeks unique paths to test his mountaineering skills and endurance. His latest project is a true test of athletic stamina and a show of multi-sport skill sets that combines road, land and air.

The objective of his latest mission was to journey ‘man-powered’ from the lowest to the highest point in Switzerland. A feat seemingly only achieved by one person before him, thus presenting a well-proven difficult route that many have attempted and failed. After much research and consideration, Nicolas set about the initial navigational and endurance challenge on the 29th of June from Brissago on the shores of Lake Maggiore (the lowest point in Switzerland). Stepping into the saddle as part of a project was a new aspect for Nicolas, but nonetheless, in just over 3.5 hours, he had conquered the 100km cycle to Macugnaga.

Once recovered from the swift cycle, Nicolas switched to the mountain boots and set off climbing towards the Marinelli Hut, situated on the lower ramparts of the Marinelli Couloir. As part of this conquest, Nicolas had a focus on maintaining a rapid pace, this meant packing light and as such carrying lower quantities of water. Beyond the hut, the Couloir became muddy, with soft slush-like snow proving difficult and cumbersome to climb in. Suddenly the choice to pack light with little water became a fatal misjudgment as fatigue and lack of fluids slowed Nicolas’s pace and technique in the climb. With fatigue comes errors and the high mountain terrain offers little mercy for a misplaced footing.

After 12 hours and 57 minutes of dogged determination and perseverance, Nicolas summited Dufourspitze (4634m) conquering his low-to-high mission in the face of fatigue and challenging springtime mountaineering conditions. Once composed, Nicolas unravelled his Paraglide and took to the sky and descended toward Zermatt where his journey would end.

Reflecting upon his 14-hour mission Nicolas commented

“Although this project was not built with technical difficulties in mind, I enjoyed instead the challenge of endurance. Road cycling is not a leading passion of mine, but incorporating this new discipline was exciting. It was also important to carry all of my equipment on the mountain, rather than leaving a depot at Marinelli Hut. Not everything went as I had imagined, but I made it and consider myself lucky to have done so.”

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