the craze for feminist hikes
The scenery is breathtaking. You have to walk along the huge expanse of water in the middle of the coniferous forest then the river, and then walk to the foot of the Diablerets massif. This July 22, in the Derborence valley, in the Swiss Alps, a small group of women listen to the sounds from the top of the peaks: water, birds, wind, their own footsteps. They are seven, including the mountain guide and a singer-guitarist.
“It’s about having the minimum impact on these spaces, taking care of them”, explains the Swiss Virginie Thurre, 46, organizer of the event. The founder of Échappées, an agency specializing in feminist walks in the mountains, devotes her summer to these hikes.
She led a trek for several days in the Grisons, discovering the lakes of the Poschiavo valley and the exploits of forgotten mountaineers; a hike in the Goms valley in the footsteps of the witches Trina and Nesa, who were burned in 1466; a walk in the footsteps of traveller, journalist and ski champion Ella Maillart…
“I simply wanted to create something that could be a ‘resource space’ for women, a beneficial place where everyone can have access to stories that are not told. » While some hikes are single-sex, most welcome men – “ not alpha males, rather men who question their place and their masculinity,” she specifies.
A desire for heights
The idea for these hikes came to Virginie Thurre in the midst of a health crisis. Social worker, she is then in the process of retraining, in the Val d’Anniviers (in the Valais) to become a mountain guide. During its formation, it is only a question of the prowess achieved by men.
Scorned and mocked by their peers, the women, expelled from the Swiss Alpine Club in 1907, practiced mountaineering on their own, founding their own organization in 1918. The two clubs eventually merged in 1980. “I would have liked someone to tell me about the first exclusively female roped party, emphasizes the attendant. Me, I want to make known these unknowns, to say what they realized and brought as knowledge in this universe. »
She creates Echappées after the confinement of 2020. The team is woven according to the meetings. They are anthropologist, musician, researcher, herbalist… all women, all mountain lovers and all feminists.
Hiking has never been so popular. Is it the Covid-19 pandemic that has reinforced the desire for heights, for clean air? According to a survey published in December 2021 by Union Sport & Cycle, the professional federation of the sector, 56% of those questioned said they had practiced hiking and leisure walking in the last twelve months (compared to 37% in 2014) . And there are many women on the trails.
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