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Trip Start Nov 13, 2006
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Flag of Switzerland  ,
Sunday, January 14, 2007

I got up earlier than I normally do here to make sure I wasn't late getting to Parsenn Bahn. As Pete and I had spent a good portion and a few drinks the night before gapjawed at the antics on the dance floor by a lively couple from Zurich, I wasn't sure my head was going to work correctly. Parsenn Bahn is at the other end of the town, at the foot of one of the main ski routes. It's a beautiful Sunday and it seems like every able bodied person in Switzerland & Germany has queued up to ski. We're lucky to get on the train that arrives within fifteen minutes of getting off the bus. As we're standing there, nose almost pressed to the window, Pete asks me if I get claustrophobic.

"No" I reply, "But I am scared of heights."

Perhaps something I should have mentioned before now. We're about to ascend to Mittlestation, Hohenweg, which is 2219 meters up. The trip will last only a few minutes. We shoot out of the tunnel and climb up the face of the mountain. Pete explains that originally, this whole track was laid in with mules.

Mules don't go a hundred meters in a few seconds.

There's a second train, bahn, to Weissfluhjoch (2662 m). Pete planned on sitting me down in the restaurant here to make sure I didn't have a problem with the altitude. We run into his sister Frances and her ski buddy for the day, Peter. With good cup of coffee down and no signs of altitude sickness, we head to final leg of the trip to Weissfluhgipfel (2884 m). Instead of the cable train, we have to take a cable car... one of those gondola type things that just hangs about... over deep ravines. So far, I haven't experienced any panicking about the height, no feelings of wooziness or anything, but I end up being mostly silent on this part of the trip which means in my own special way, I'm trying to keep my nerves together. You're not going to fall, Eithne. Millions of people do this all the time without incident, this time is no different. Breathe. Mainly, I just keep telling myself to breath.

It's embarrassing to have to pause for a breath in mid-scream you see.

At the top station, we climb out and trek up a bit of a hill to the restaurant at the very top. I'm reminded of the Douglas Adams book Restaurant at the End of the Universe for some reason. I have yet to really look around at the scenery, I just want to get up there and take it in all at once.

Pete and I sit down once again and I get another cup of coffee (later I would reflect that two cups in thirty minutes after drinking nothing but instant for nearly a month might have been slightly unwise) and chat. We sit next to the windows in this restaurant and I finally start to look.

And look.
And forget to breathe.

I am literally moved to tears, the giddy almost laughing type. When Pete takes his leave to hit the slopes, I scoot around to the other side and take in more of the view.
I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. It is painfully bright, but I can see for miles.
Outside the restaurant the snow is rippled from where the wind has pushed and danced across the face of the mountain. There is a foot trail broken in by ski boots that curves into a rock outcropping that marks the boundary between solid earth and air. The rocks jut and jag, breaking up the white of the snow.

The mountains stretch into the horizon. Every which way I look is an ocean of mountains meeting the sky. The white peaks give way to shades of blue further on, shadows of the mountains interrupting the brilliance of the sunlight. The clouds move over the mountains, I could swear they're getting stuck on the various peaks.

And the sky.

Tell me again why the sky is blue?

Blue blue blue, above me not a cloud. There are some just behind me now, dark swirls moving in fast in this high valley, but they're level with this peak. The timing today has been perfect; once I start down the top peak will be barely visible from the next stop down. Other clouds stream between the ridges below my vantage.

There is nothing gentle about these alps. I'm used to hills and smaller mountains that curve and fold around the land like a worn blanket. There is no apology to the sky here. Solid, staunch, rugged. Intense. Immense. A maze of valley and tree lines, of wind patterns.

I find an unoccupied patch of snow and rock and just sit. It's freezing, but I think the brightness makes it feel tolerable. The skiers are quiet here; small bits of laughter carry on the wind but otherwise, stillness.

A mountain is patient. It stretches from the violence of its creation into the peace of the moment. Even if all the snow melts, it is still Still.

You wanted stillness love.

I just never imagined it would be so beautiful.
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Comments

libwitch
libwitch on

yes, breathtaking
I think I would do my damnest to forget my fear of heights to see those views. Amazing.

There was a moment when I felt like I was a viewing a postcard and then another moment when I thought '...and wow, someone I know is there!'

And then another moment when I wanted to reach out and hug the monitor when your picture came up on the screen, but the folks in the Science Library don't know me all that well and would probably think its a bit odd.

fyredancer13
fyredancer13 on

coincidence.
Just the other day I was reading about mountains being patient and still, but also stubborn... much like all my earthy friends.
I know the feeling all too well. When I went to Colorado I felt the same thing... there was flat land all around me that seemed to stretch on and on forever until suddenly there were huge snow-capped mountains on the horizon.
The way they protruded into the sky, breaking the boundary between earth and heaven... it was a very surreal sort of thing.
I'm glad you're having a good time :)

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