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“You’ll never stop rambling, Jackie!”

Her father was Swiss and adored the mountains. Her mother was British and taught her the island way of life. She met her first husband in 1939 at the foot of the Matterhorn. Even as a child she went rambling with her parents in the mountains around Zermatt. She is 91 years old. A cup of tea with Jackie Myers.

The sun is already high in the sky when we meet up with Jackie Myers at Hotel Schweizerhof. It is past ten o’clock. Usually, the nonagenarian rises at seven and does some morning exercises before going down to breakfast at 7.30. She cannot understand why so many ramblers don’t set off until noon. The young people looked worn-out and frazzled when they return towards evening. Her rambling companions know how to select shady paths so that they stay cool. As a child she got up with her parents at six. She went rambling every day during the four-week family holiday. Her father found delight in making soups for their excursions while the mother cooked tea. There was also bread and butter. And a picnic in the rucksack – because in the 1920s there were not any mountain restaurants, helicopters, or cable cars in Zermatt. Today, you can go everywhere thanks to the excellent infrastructure. But the village has changed a great deal. The mountains are still the same, and the path to the “Edelweiss” or “Hotel du Trift” is still quiet. She last went by this trail six years ago, but now it’s too steep for her. She doesn’t take any risks any more and used walking sticks for the first time this year.
Is walking and rambling a question of taste? In the past, her family didn’t have a car and as a small girl she walked four times a day there and back on the 25-minute route to her school in Basel. Even today her friends tell her: “You’ll never stop rambling, Jackie!” She met her first husband David Hedgkinson in 1939 at the foot of the Matterhorn. He was a member of the British Alpine Club. A plaque was put up inside the English Church in his honour. Even today her heart leaps with joy when she sees mountaineers with ropes and picks in the village.
For many generations, the Brits in her family have married Swiss and the Swiss Brits. After having left Switzerland in 1939 for Sussex, they were warmly welcomed back to Hotel Monte Rosa at the end of the war. It is a beautiful old-fashioned mountaineers’ hotel. Because of the renovation work, she has moved for the first time to the Schweizerhof, but everyone is very friendly.
Eleven o’clock: although she wants a lazy day for a change today, she is late starting because she takes time to adjust. There is a system to rambling. On the first day of her holiday she walked from Winkelmatten to Furi. Today, she is tackling the path from Tufteren to Sunnegga and back via Findeln. She recommends an early-morning hike to the Riffelsee and the demanding path to the Täschhütte via the Ober Sattla ridge. 
It’s time to go now. She stands in the revolving door dressed in bright khaki, a large colourful sunhat and walking sticks. “Have you been to the cemetery?” she asks. “It’s an impressive sight. All those names: Perren, Aufdenblatten, Imboden, Taugwalder … great mountaineers.”
 

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