Everest is coming up in April and so it was time to get some real training in---aka get my butt up to the mountains and get some climbing done! So off to the Alps I went...this was my training and vacation for the year.
Fear of God moments, as I call them...I have grown to love. They are my “WAKE UP, Life is Short, Live with Passion, Do What You Love, Push the Limits- Cuz We Only Live Once!” Last month I was fortunate enough to visit a place long on my bucket list- The Alps! I had always dreamed of visiting what I consider the climbing mecca! It was simply awesome going to Zermatt, Chamonix, Jungfrau region! So much beauty all around and a reminder of what an amazing playground us lucky little humans have to enjoy! The goal of the trip was to climb 3 mountains- The Eiger, The Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc. Well poor weather and conditions threw a kink in our plans, but not to worry we attempted 6 climbs instead across the Swiss, Italian, and French Alps :) A simply wonderful unexpected surprise!
I absolutely love trips where I get to go somewhere I have never been! This trip everywhere we went I had never been :) We had an Everest crew reunion and Pam, Kathy, and Kevin were part of the fun and adventure! Part of our trip was guided by Martin Moran’s company and part unguided (Mont Blanc), which was awesome to put our skills to the test!
I can honestly say I was more afraid on this trip than I was on Everest! There were plenty of “Fear of God” moments where we came face to face with knife edge ridges fully exposed and gusting winds where we could barely keep walking. Not to mention I took a VERY scary fall coming down Mont Blanc that could have ended badly-So I am happy to be in one piece with a smile on my face. I know, I know, not everyone’s ideal vacation, but I enjoyed EVERY second of it, even the scary times :) There is an inexplicable joy of being able to push your mind and body to places it thought it could never go or think it shouldn’t go...aka...a knife edge ridges where one false move could well turn out not so great. It is an amazing feeling to overcome your fears and look back and be stronger and better for it!
So a little about fear because I think it can apply to everyone reading this...you don’t have to be on some big mountain and come face to face with mother nature to be afraid. Life can every day present to us scary and challenging situations that may bring up feelings of fear or resistance to take the leap forward and just go for it! All I can say is that a little risk can bring great rewards- whether professional, personal, emotional...you get it. Low hanging fruit...can only be so exciting and fulfilling. Most of the time we learn and benefit most from those experiences that pushed our limits, made us dig deep and be tough and jump in without knowing everything would be “ok”. Now maybe this is just the adrenaline junkie in me speaking...but I have found that in my decisions at work, in love, and in my adventurous pursuits! Fear can paralyze us from reaching our max potential-whatever that may be...again this not just related to climbing mountains :) I have to thank mountaineering and these “Fear of God” moments so to speak to continuously make me a little bolder, take more calculated risks, and just go after what I am passionate about. There may be failures for sure, but if you never try, you never know. A strong point to live by for me.
So what we climbed! We started off in Switzerland in the little town of Evolene and practiced some basic rock climbing skills with our guide Andy. It was breathtaking! I LOVE Switzerland :) The little flower boxes in all of the chalets were charming, the cheese was AMAZING, the chocolate, the gorgeous mountains all around...ahhh... a little slice of heaven on earth!
From there we headed off to the Jungfrau region to go for our attempt of Eiger. Well weather put a damper on that one and instead we climbed the peak next to it The Monch (4107m), which introduced me to my first of many knife edge ridges and exposed ascents! I had a few “Oh S$%*, don’t look down moments” indeed! All part of the thrill and challenge though. It was also great snow, ice, and rock experience. It was an awesome climb and the views from the top were well, FANTASTIC and well worth it! We also attempted Jungfrau (4158m), yet weather turned on us so we turned around about half way up. The hut system in Switzerland is extremely organized and runs like clockwork! Very impressive.
From here we returned to Evolene and got ready for our go at the Matterhorn. Well unlucky for us-it was still covered in snow! :( boo. So after arriving in Zermatt, we decided to venture to the Italian Alps from there and try and tackle Polluce (4094 m), Castore (4226 m), and Breithorn (4165 m)! Mission Accomplished! We got to stay in what is now my favorite ski hut of all times- this little Italian ski hut which had such yummy food and cheap wine- I was a happy girl....great food and wine and mountains= happy Georgina :) It was here that we learned of the tragic accident on Mont Blanc, which is where we were headed to next. We were able to climb Castore and Polluce on one day with a 4 amish departure. We had wonderful weather, not too crowded, and a couple more knife edge ridges to scare the crap out of me...Ha...all good fun though. The views were incredible...we saw the sun rise, always breathtaking, and I got to down climb and rappel down some sections, well let's say less gracefully than I would have liked..lol. It was great to put our rock skills and ability to deal with exposure to the test! After a FULL ON day, our reward was yummy wine and snacks at the hut w/ great company! Always love all the folks you meet on these trips...interesting to the max!
On our last day there, we had our go on Breithorn...that was supposed to be kinda of a stroll, except we got blasted with what felt like 100mph winds on a knife edge summit ridge nonetheless and could barely stand upright as we pushed for the summit! My little ice ax was flailing in the wind....it was freakin SCARY. Once we were out of the “danger zone” and out of the wind and had summitted, I paused and starting gagging-Yes I almost vomited from fear! A first for me and ya not very ladylike, but it happened. Luckily I didn’t throw up, just felt like I had to and gave thanks for being ALIVE. I am sure it sounds a little overly dramatic, but you had to be there! Pam would agree :) We all had a good laugh once we were down and safe and sound!