Introducing Sabina, Wild Women’s Awesome Alpine Guide in Switzerland
If you were part of the Wild Women Expeditions Switzerland Hiking Adventure this year, there’s a very good chance that you followed in the big footsteps of Sabina Bösch. Her long but relaxed strides set the pace for the first elevation grind up to our accommodations at the Berghotel Faulhorn on day two—and on the wildflower-laced alpine hikes that followed.
Groggy from the previous day’s five-hour hike, Sabina insisted that we bring our coffee outside. “You really must. This is something wonderful.” Unsure of what to expect, our group was wowed by the arrival of a helicopter delivering a crate of fresh vegetables and wine. We watched as the helicopter made seven runs down to the lower and valley back, stocking the hotel with every provision required at the remote mountain outpost. Sabina’s smile and kid-like thrill was contagious. Following her bright energy and spirit to the surprise of Lake Bachalpsee and along the challenging ridgeline descent to Trift made for rewarding and quietly educational days in the shadows of Matterhorn.
Sabina’s cool, deeply thoughtful and intimately connected to the mountains. Her plant knowledge, previous circus connection (and tricks) and travels with her donkey make for easy conversations that roll from shared Bircher muesli recipes at breakfast, to stories from her life in the circus up the gondola and out onto the trail. Her love of Basler Läckerli (a Swiss spiced biscuit), the Swiss cantons and mighty Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger is obvious. She’s also been known to heave a few pesky cows out of the way if they’re blocking the trail. Add a mob of goats or a few whistling marmots and Sabina is in her total happy place.
And no one will depart Sabina’s company without learning about one her favourite bird species. Known as “the gardener of the Swiss forest,” Switzerland’s industrious spotted nutcracker is responsible for planting countless Swiss pines in a truly symbiotic, sustainable relationship. As long as Sabina doesn’t have a secret mouthful of Läckerli in her mouth, she can mimic the nutcracker’s call.
She has just returned from a getaway to Morocco and was able to squeak in this homework that I sent her, offering a few insights into her guiding career. She says it’s getting colder in Switzerland “and in many places, white as well. I like the cooler temperatures though, they give me a lot of energy.” As a Wild Women guide, Sabina instills this same energy, silently like the cold, encouraging everyone forward with a gentle smile (and biscuits).
What’s your favourite place on earth?
That’s very difficult to answer. Different places and landscapes touch different parts within me. But generally, I definitely love forests with very old trees as well as open, wild landscapes with a wide view like the Swiss Alps or Iceland.
What trail or secret spot do you love to share with Wild Women?
I won’t be able to tell you, otherwise it isn’t my secret spot anymore!
What’s the most incredible experience you’ve witnessed while guiding?
I think it was the experience of remoteness in East Greenland. No cell phone, no signal, no roads, hardly any villages, just nature and us.
What’s your spirit animal?
The northern raven.
What don’t we know about you?
I have a very vivid imagination and therefore see figures and silhouettes all over the place while hiking and I like to juggle to get focused.
What’s your biggest fear in the wild?
I don’t think I feel fear in the wild. I feel fear in a car at high speed or in a big crowd of humans with little open space around. Moments like this are unpredictable to me. In the wild, it is more a question of assessing things, using your experience and making good decisions.
What would you like to learn more about?
Endless things. My interests are broad and there are so many wonderful books that attract my curiosity and I happily invest in them. To find the time to really sink into them is often difficult though. But books are patient, luckily.
Tell us–what’s your kick ass song that gets you revved up and ready to take on the day?
That’s a question I already hated as a teenager. I love a lot of different music styles and songs, but seldom do I know the title and the singer. For quite a while it is the song “Roses on Fire” by Emilie Zoé though.
What’s your favourite trail snack?
Paprika chips by Zweifel (a popular Swiss brand).
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
My picnic bag.
Who has been your greatest mentor?