Women were not accepted in mountain sports for a long time and had to assert themselves in a male-dominated environment. This makes it all the more important to remember the pioneers on the mountain who paved the way for generations of women. One of them was Lucy Walker.
Lucy Walker storms the summit
Lucy’s eyes fill with tears as she takes the final steps to the summit, exhausted. She looks out over the four-thousand-metre peaks all around and can hardly believe her luck: she has proved it is possible and achieved what few thought she could.
This is how Lucy Walker must have felt when she was the first woman to climb the Matterhorn.
A pioneer of mountaineering
Lucy Walker was a pioneer of mountaineering. In 1871, the Englishwoman prevailed in a male-dominated sport and, in July of that year, became the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn.
Her success was hailed by the media at the time as a remarkable event and sparked a debate about the role of women.
For example, Lucy was honoured in 1887 by the mountaineer and women’s rights activist Mabel Barker. Lucy Walker demonstrated that women too can master difficult and dangerous adventures.
“No Ladies please!”
Her story is so inspiring that in 2019, almost 150 years later, it was performed in the open-air theatre “No Ladies please!” on the Riffelberg. The play was also about other female pioneers: for example, a woman dressed up as a man to live out her passion for playing the alphorn.
The determination of these women to assert themselves helped to change the image of women in society and to expand opportunities for women in many areas.