#Monte Luco: The first women to climb a mountain


There’s a blue silk scarf in my wardrobe, handed down from my grandma. I don it on windy spring days, as she did in the photographs of when she was young. Wearing it brings me closer to her and to a bygone era. When walking in the mountains, I experience a similar sensation and wonder: who might have trodden this very path before me? Yesterday, while climbing up to the summit of Monte Lucco, which is part of the Maddalene Mountain Range, I discovered the answer to my own question.

It happened while ascending trail no. 133 (the most difficult and steepest) thus lessening the advantages afforded by my robust, hi-tech boots to try to achieve a more authentic mountaineering experience. In effect, I was “commemorating” the memory of two courageous women: Regina von Brandis and Catherine Botsch who, in 1552, climbed to the summit of Monte Lucco together with Jakob of Boymont. Apart from being the first recorded ascent by women in history, it was also one of the earliest mountaineering achievements.

About 200 m before reaching the summit, I came across a mountain lake. Surely Regina and Catherine must have seen their images reflected back at them in its pristine sky-blue waters? On reaching the mountain summit at 2,433 m, I felt a sense of connection with these female pioneers and was rewarded by a timeless sense of achievement in attaining a worthwhile goal, albeit with considerable effort.