I retraced my steps. It was long overdue.
This time last year I followed a path that I had taken 31 years previously to the mountains in Switzerland.
I was 18 years old when I first saw the mountains. The coach twisted around a bend and suddenly the towering range of the Swiss alps swung into view. How you couldn’t have seen them for miles, I have no idea. The suddenness of their mighty splendor took my breath away. It was an instant love-affair. The mountains have defined my life ever since.
But not all moments in the mountains are filled with magic. Perhaps it is why I love them so much. I discovered the hard way just how quickly majesty can turn to menace on a beautiful clear day at the summits of the Swiss alps. How out of nowhere, with the same suddenness of their presences on the road, a blizzard hit.
Let me tell you something about being in a blizzard.
The first thing is the instant white-out. Immediately your visibility and orientation is gone – you cannot see your hand in front of your face. One minute I could see valleys and peaks for miles; the next I may as well have been blind.
Simultaneously comes the temperature drop. And by drop, I mean plummet. A bitterness so cold that you lose muscle control. Limbs feel like dead-weight and extremities are first agonizing and then no sensation at all.
And finally, there is a tiredness so great that the only thing you want to do is lay down and sleep. The sensation is overwhelming. It consumes your whole-being and it was precisely at that moment, I realised I was in big trouble and if I gave in to that urge, I would sleep for a very long time indeed.
I am not dead.
Or at least I certainly still believe myself to be alive. I made it off the mountain with a new understanding and an even greater love for just how incredible mountains are – but I will never again not respect how mountains will hold live and death in the balance of a heartbeat.
The following year I returned to the Swiss alps on a journey that equally changed my life – to take up a high-class dream job working in a luxury ski resort that I had chased and landed with zero experience.
Was it little wonder that I was desperate to retrace my steps across Switzerland to the mountains that had defined my life?
Once again, it was no ordinary journey.
This was the challenge. To fulfil my bucket list of retracing the original journey, this journey had to:
Planning started 12-months prior with trying to reserve the hotel. For several months, enquiries were being made and nothing came back. When it did, the response was unexpected.
This specific hotel has repeat guests every year and cannot accommodate bookings at Christmas – ever!
The dream could easily have been over. To stay anywhere else would not fulfil the bucket list. It HAD to be there – at Christmas – in 2021 only.
There was only one thing for it. I had to convince the hotel to let my family and me stay.
A month before the trip was due to commence, Covid restrictions hit again. Everything was booked and ready to go. We had not made any preparations for a Christmas at home, yet suddenly faced the big decision – cancel the trip whilst we could still get a refund for the most part of it or hold fire to see if Christmas miracles happen?
Two weeks to go, 50% refund point. All official information states the same restrictions. If we flew to Switzerland, we would have to quarantine for 10 days – our trip was 9 days long – what would be the point? Unofficial sources in Switzerland were “hopeful” things might change. We were starting to reside ourselves to the possibility that we should make a plan B for a UK Christmas.
A few non-important things were cancelled and revisions were made to the trip to keep it as simple and direct as possible. The “stops” in Geneva inbound and Montreux outbound were cancelled. Expensive amendments were made to the flights so that the trip would be 7 days direct from the airport to the resort both ways.
It would make the journey a killer with a 3-year-old – but in many ways, it was more representative of the original, which was an arduous non-stop overland trawl without adequate supplies. Ironically, it’s exactly what we got – without a buffet car – it was a long trawl without adequate supplies!
Covid restrictions in Switzerland prevented the usual social events, so getting an audience with one of the best ski racers in history seemed unlikely. It would have to be a private affair and we’d never met.
Many liaisons with various people did result in enjoying a private coffee and chat with this great skier just hours before we were due to leave the resort. It will always be a memory that I’ll cherish.
It is a question I am often asked. To chase dreams takes courage. It is not giving up. It is about chasing your dreams, over-coming any obstacle until you live out those dreams you have dared to believe in.
Sometimes it is difficult to really convey in words just how special it is to Live Daring Dreams – but a real-life example often goes a long way to accompany it.
The mountains are a special place for me. In the mountains, I am inspired and awed by the strength and endless possibilities we have in our lives, of the transformations and experiences that have carved and shaped my life; of challenges faced and overcome; of the sheer joy of existence and the vision that the future can bring standing on the summits.
It is impossible to describe how it feels to live your dreams – just that it is something we are all capable of achieving – and you really should find out for yourself what it is like to Live Daring Dreams.