Saas-Fee: why visit Switzerland in summer

“Courage! Girl Power!” another hiker exclaimed, raising his fist in the air. Our all-female group – a rare sight even these days in the Swiss Alps – had just started the ascent of the 4,027m Allalinhorn from Saas-Fee. It is one of the 45 Valais peaks over 4,000 m, 18 of which are in the Saas valley. A purple rope threaded itself between all of us, leading to Elsie Trichot up front, our female guide. Before her slanted the nearly spherical dome of the Allalinhorn, shimmering white against the contrasting blue sky.

“About 90% of mountaineers are men,” Elsie told me before our ascent, as we waited among summer skiers at the foot of the Alpine Metro – the world’s longest funicular – in the village of Saas-Fee. . Petite, sweet but strong and assertive, Elsie is one of 42 female mountain guides in Switzerland: the other 1,556 are men.

“That’s what my husband gave me instead of an engagement ring,” she told us as we left Mittelallalin station (3,457m), cutting a rope with her knife Swiss.

“Much more convenient.”

I turned, shielding my eyes with my hand to make out the top of the Allalinhorn. Even the sun apparently struggled to rise above its peak. I cast my eyes over the unbroken sea of ​​snow, trying and failing to find the road we were going to take.

“Are you warm enough?” Elsie asked.

“Yeah, really hot,” I replied.

“Trick question!” She smiles. “If you’re hot now, you’ll be too hot once we start walking. Listen to your body. If you’re hot, take off a diaper, if you’re hungry, eat; and if you are thirsty, drink.