On Assignment Projects
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Out of lush green valleys, the Alps burst into the sky in jagged sculptures of rock and ice. The highest mountains in Western Europe, these glittering peaks are the birthplace of modern trekking. Their highest summit, Mont Blanc, was first conquered in 1786 by two natives of nearby Chamonix who were equipped with little more than ropes and iron-tipped walking sticks. These days, there are myriad ways to explore the Alps: by zip line or mountain bike, rock climbing or canyoneering. Using photography and filmmaking to document your adventure, set off on an Alpine journey from the foot of the Jungfrau to the crooked peak of the Matterhorn.
Fly into Zürich and take a scenic ride to Grindelwald, perched above two lakes at the foot of the soaring Bernese Alps. With the famous trio of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains jutting skyward above the town, Grindelwald is an ideal jumping-off point for our Alpine adventures. Take the historic cogwheel train to Schynige Platte and head off on a variety of hikes, photographing and filming the amphitheater of ice-glazed peaks that surrounds you. Examine the unusual plant species that thrive above the tree line on a visit to the Alpine Garden with local botanists. Trek to Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier in the Alps, and see ice sculptures at the magical Ice Palace along the way. Join experienced guides to try out canyoneering, an exhilarating experience that combines rappelling, climbing, and watersliding through deep gorges. Hone your action photography skills or capture the sense of adventure on film while hiking through narrow ravines.
Travel south across high mountain passes to the charming Alpine village of Zermatt, gateway to the mighty Matterhorn. Take the highest cable car in Europe to Klein Matterhorn, photographing or filming nearly 360-degree views of glaciers and peaks from midair. Spend a day mountain biking through pine forests with the magnificent mountains as your backdrop, or go zip-lining with professional outfitters. Trace the history of mountaineering at the Matterhorn Museum and discover tales of the daredevils and pioneers who have tackled the Alps’ highest summits. Learn the art of exposure and shutter speed with the gorgeous Alps as your backdrop.
My favorite part of the trip was reaching the ridgeline of the Matterhorn. You couldn’t help but appreciate the world from that breathtaking viewpoint.
Just over the border in France lies Chamonix, a renowned mountain resort that hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924. On the near horizon looms Mont Blanc, the so-called “roof of Europe,” measuring 15,782 feet. Settle into the village and take to the trails, trekking to Alpine lakes and meadows scattered with wildflowers and ringing with cowbells. Ride the funicular to the Col de Balme and hike up to the Croix-de-Fer pass for incredible views and a chance to slide on the snow. Enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the sharp pinnacles of the Aiguille du Midi mountain, first climbed in 1818. Strap on crampons and grab an ice axe for a walk on the spectacular glacier known as the Mer de Glace, and then try ice climbing with the help of professional guides. Go ice skating at the village rink or spend a sunny afternoon with local teenagers at the Olympic swimming pool. As we explore, interview and photograph seasoned mountaineers drawn to the area by the challenges of its imposing peaks.
Put the final touches on your On Assignment project, then enjoy a celebratory fondue dinner and share your final presentation with your group before returning home.
We stay in small mountain hostels and huts throughout the program.