On International Women’s Day 2021, Switzerland Tourism ST, with the support of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), the Swiss Mountain Guide Association and the outdoor clothing and equipment company Mammut, invited female climbers from all over the world to tackle Switzerland’s highest peaks. The objective was for all 48 peaks above 4,000 metres to have been conquered at least once by an all-female team by 8 October. This Peak Challenge was part of the ST summer campaign 100% Women, which was aimed exclusively at a female audience.

Despite persistently bad weather during the summer, the 100% Women Peak Challenge had already been completed by the end of September. More than 700 female climbers from over 20 countries contributed to its successful completion. The challenge enabled ST to show Switzerland in a positive light as a mountain destination, both nationally and internationally. The campaign was covered in more than 500 media items, leading to 341 million media contacts.

Popstar Beatrice Egli or conqueror of Everest Raha Moharrak

The summiteers included seasoned mountaineers alongside women inspired by the challenge to tackle their first 4,000-metre peak. Examples of their stories can be found in the Instagram posts by about.ju and elsietrichot_revesalpins.

Beatrice Egli bestrides the Matterhorn with mountain guide Suzanne Hüsser.

Famous participants such as pop singer Beatrice Egli were also among those scaling the heights. “The 100% Women Peak Challenge was precisely the incentive I needed to dare to tackle the Matterhorn,” declared Egli. “The feeling of standing on top of that iconic mountain was overwhelming. I would like to say a huge thank you to my guide, Suzanne Hüsser, who prepared me for the challenging ascent at the training camp.”

ST was also delighted to welcome Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi Arabian woman to scale Mount Everest, who took on the Breithorn as part of the challenge (Instagram post). At the end of September, mountaineering twins Nungshi and Tashi Malik (Instagram post) took part in the 100% Women Peak Challenge, representing India. They are famous as the Twinclimbers who summited Mount Everest at the age of just 21. The Breithorn was also the chosen conquest of Italian TV host Federica Fontana. Former British ski star Chemmy Alcott and German athlete Caja Schöpf reached the summits of the Allalinhorn and the Strahlhorn on a high-altitude ski tour back in March. The British climber Olivia Jane Wood was planning her first assault on the Matterhorn this summer, with help from ST’s office in London and corporate partner Mammut. Due to the large amounts of snow, she has not yet been able to fulfil her dream.

Strong media response to 100% Women

An interactive landing page kept a running record of the progress made towards completing with the challenge. Mountains that had already been conquered were marked with a green tick. The highlight of the site was the gallery of participants’ summit selfies. All the climbers posted on social media using the #peakchallenge hashtag, so that successful attempts were documented. The campaign achieved worldwide media resonance. Of the more than 500 stories generated, 200 were from German media, which focused in particular on Beatrice Egli’s ascent of the Matterhorn. However, Japanese, Korean, Indian, British and of course Swiss media also covered the challenge. Female journalists from the UK reported on their own ascent, as did journalists from Blick, Tele 1 (CH Media) or RTS1 (national TV French-speaking Switzerland).

Seizing the potential for women’s sport

Although outdoor sports have gained in popularity during the pandemic, mountain climbing is still perceived as a male domain. ST saw huge potential here: to put a face to women in the Swiss mountain climbing scene and reinforce the country’s position as a female-friendly travel destination. The 100% Women Peak Challenge also encouraged women in Switzerland and beyond to try something new. That was reason enough for Rita Christen, President of the Swiss Mountain Guide Association, to back the campaign. “We certainly got involved in the campaign. Although promoting female mountaineering is not one of our defined priorities, the 100% Women Peak Challenge presented mountain climbing as a worthwhile endeavour and led to commissions for our female guides.”

In the footsteps of Lucy Walker

Like the British alpinist Lucy Walker, who became the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn exactly 150 years ago, the 100% Women Peak Challenge set out to create role models and give women a platform for their achievements. That ambition was not limited to mountain sports, however. Working in conjunction with the tourism industry, ST presented some 230 offers and events geared towards a female perspective of Switzerland at MySwitzerland.com/women, timed to coincide with the launch. All of the experiences were led by women. The 100% Women campaign is continuing in 2022 with a number of new projects.

Facts and figures
Summer   2021 2020
Budget* CHF million 48.5  40.8
Share of total budget % 49.6 49.5
Target markets   Global Global
Number of brochures distributed million 6.5 0.7
Page views of MySwitzerland.com** million 5.7 8.0
Top advertising and marketing contacts billion 1.0 1.3
Media contacts (readers, viewers, listeners) billion 6.4 5.6
Participants in ST press trips   346 299
Top media articles influenced   2,194 1,673
Views of summer clip on YouTube million 52.8
*Including recovery funds 
**Only views of pages with specific summer campaign content are counted.