Tomba was a long-haired cat from Switzerland, based in an Alpine hotel in the canton of Valais.  During the climbing season he would follow mountaineers on their ascents and so reached a number of impressive summits. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy his outings and would wait eagerly for the next group of climbers to make their preparations.

TombaHis exploits have been recorded in a brochure by the Peter Stoller family who run the Berghotel Schwarenbach, near Kandersteg, from where Tomba went out on his exploits.  The text has been translated directly from the original German and is reproduced below:

“On 7th August 1988 a little kitten came into the world. Tomba, named partly after his mother, Tomassa, and partly after the renowned alpine ski racer, Alberto Tomba.

When barely old enough to walk, Tomba started making off straight away across the hills and ridges. Time and time again we became worried about him, so we would set off out into the wind and rain with the intent of bringing the kitten back into the safety of our home.

However, when we learned that 10-month old Tomba had escorted three mountain climbers up to the 3,453m-high summit of the Rinderhorn, we knew that we were dealing with a real mountaineer, who would be able to find his own way home.

Once, when Tomba was en route with a young married couple, he was suddenly reluctant to go any further and he took himself off the path behind a large rock. The couple were curious so they followed him, believing he had discovered something there. Just then, an avalanche thundered across the path they had been climbing up ... Tomba had actually saved them both from disaster!

On Max and my mountain tour on the Rinderhorn, Tomba padded up the steep firm slope. We couldn’t help but be amazed. Tomba followed effortlessly, paused when we did, climbed onwards when we did. Over the summit ridge along the extreme edge he pranced, with his tail held aloft, fawning all over Max and evidently content. He had reached the summit which was 3,453m high.

Max wanted to carry him on his rucksack on the descent, but this offer was proudly turned down. Every time Tomba slid on the ice on the steep glacier, he would ‘adjust his rudder’ and immediately bring himself back on track.

Tomba lived a fulfilled life and his fame extended far beyond the borders of Switzerland where he gained a lot of publicity. A mountaineering yearbook in Japan dedicated a double-page spread to him, complete with photographs; a South African weekly told his story; and in New York also, he became almost a household name. Tabloids across Europe wrote reports about him; Swiss TV came to Schwarenbach to film and they subsequently broadcast a fascinating report with impressive footage.”

For a fuller account and to see some amazing images of one of Tomba’s expeditions, go to:

http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/featuring/adv17.html

This article by Patrick Roberts (whose website is www.purr-n-fur.org.uk ) first appeared in the Winter 2011 edition of The Cat, which is Cats Protection’s quarterly magazine and reproduced here with his very kind permission.  

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