Alpine Journal editor goes on Swiss odyssey

Membership, Mountaineering

Editor of the American Alpine Journal, John Harlin III, is attempting to become only the second person to encircle Switzerland, following its largely mountainous border.

“According to simple map-distances, I’ll cover roughly 800 kilometres by bicycle and kayak and 1,000++ kilometres on foot—including lots of technical climbing over difficult mountains (for example, the hardest ridge on the Matterhorn),” said Harlin who began his journey on June 22. He is first tackling Switzerland’s alpine border with Italy, heading east from Lake Geneva.

“In real life, two-dimensional map distances mean little; the vertical relief tremendously increases the actual kilometres on the ground, as well as the difficultly of walking them. But the physical adventure is merely a personal challenge, good for a few stories (especially when things go wrong). The real depth of this journey will be its window into the borderlands.”

Harlin hopes to complete the adventure in three months. He is posting pictures and videos daily to, the international website of Switzerland’s public broadcaster. His journey is being tracked in real time thanks to an interactive Google map.