A Variety of Alps

April 26, 1985

Once again we had the pleasure of having Jim Blanchard, Coordinator of the Outdoor Pursuits Program and the Outdoor Leadership Certification Program at the Physical Education Dept. of the U of 0, entertain us for the April potluck. His topic dealt with teaching climbing and trekking in the Bernese Oberland Alps in Switzerland, Transylvanian Alps of Rumania, the Kamnik and Julian Alps, the northern Albanian Alps of Yugoslavia, and the Olympic Range of Greece.

He was employed to teach climbing in the Alps, and his students varied in experience—some having none. Sometimes the mountains had marked climbing trails which especially interested the climbers present for such trails do not exist in our area. The climbing class started in the Wetterhorn in the Bernese Oberland Alps. Films of these mountains and valleys were spectacular, and the climbing of the novices up the steep grades often frightening.

The climbers moved on into Austria, where they visited Salzburg, claimed to be the oldest city in the country. There were many beautiful churches here, flower pots and window boxes, geranium laden buildings, and finally an unusual slide of a duck and goslings swimming.

In Bucharest he snapped a fine picture of the big statue of Lenin. Bucharest is slavic, uses a different alphabet, but resembles Paris. Today Rumania has the tightest security system of any of the Eastern Pak countries. Jim says his pictures and experiences were both delightful and humorous. In one instance he fell asleep, was awakened by a strange touch, and opened his eyes to look up into the eyes of several sheep licking his face and hands. They love the salt on human skin.

In Yugloslavia every building, home or structure of any kind contains a picture of Tito. The country has a stark eastern culture. Here, Jim and students climbed in the Kamnik Alps.

Other highlights were the ice caves in Yugoslavia, and city of Pula where, to quote Jim, “They make the best ice cream in the world.” Then came Dubrovnik, a city with red tile roofs; Pec having a Turkish influence; Mt. Olympus in Greece which casts an eerie light on the sky; and swimming in the clear waters at Corfu, which was very revealing (in more ways than one!).

The climbing series were impressive, his flower shots gorgeous, his alpine views magnificent, and one shot of the Matterhorn was simply awesome. Jim presented an exciting program as he's a superb photographer and interesting, witty speaker.

Ruth Smith


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