The snow white vista of the Swiss Alps shone in the distance as I arrived in Interlaken. A tiny town in the middle of Switzerland, Interlaken had the feeling of an Olympic village asleep in a lush green valley between two crystal lakes. A site for many different sports, such as skiing, paragliding and even skydiving; Interlaken had many different offerings for both the casual and the extreme. Now, I’m not the most extreme person, but being just a few miles away from the experience of a lifetime, a thought came into my mind: how could I not go skiing? So I bought my pass for the day, proceeded to rent gear at a local store and then made the trek with my friends to the base of the Alps.
However, a few things immediately came to my mind upon taking the tram up to the ski lodge. One being that we were high up, as we cut through trees climbing higher and higher into the mint green mountainside. Two, it had been a very long time since I had skied and I was most likely going to die on this adventure. As soon as the cable car made it up past the trees and into the snow-capped mountains, I was blown away by the beautiful scenery and all my fears melted away. We boarded a train that flew across the perilous ridges of the mountains, until it stopped at the ski lodge where we would begin our day.
With my gear on, skis strapped in and a ridiculous amount of layers on to prevent premature frostbite, I slid my goggles down over my face to prepare for the surging wind that awaited me at the top of the slopes. As my chairlift neared the jump-off point, I slid down the ramp and then into an incredible sensation of awe at my surroundings. I was standing in the middle of the Swiss Alps with white mountains peppered with green vegetation all over, along with some of the best ski trails in the entire world. After a few seconds of prolonged mouth-gaping, I was then released from the spell when a group of angry German snowboarders yelled at me for blocking the exit for the chairlift. Shrugging off the mistake, I took off down toward the trail.
At first, my years of inexperience were painfully obvious, as I struggled to maintain control and turn properly. However, with each run, I could feel myself gradually acclimating to the sport, as my legs began to trust each turn and my balance began to strengthen. There was nothing like the feeling of flying down a mountain, zig-zagging in and out of turns weighed with the terrifying knowledge that a steep cliff awaited a wrong move.
By lunch, my friend and I decided to explore more of the area. We discovered that we could take a cable car all the way to the top of the Swiss Alps, up near an area called Schilthorn. Waiting at the top was a special stop that immediately validated my desire to go. The Piz Gloria, a famous plaza that was used as the main filming location for the James Bond film, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” was the highest reachable point in the Swiss Alps and before I knew it, I was on the cable car up.
As the car departed and climbed higher and higher into the sky and the sudden realization of my own mortality becoming more obvious with each ascension, I focused on my uncontainable excitement at being able to see the full mountain range. Finally, the car arrived at the Piz Gloria and I stepped out to be greeted by the serenity of a station in the sky. Walking out to the main helicopter landing zone, I could see the full reach of the Swiss Alps as they piled over each other with the semblance of a ruffled white blanket.
Standing above the clouds, my hands shaking from the heights, I did what any reasonable American would do and took my phone out for pictures. Soon I had to leave in order to make the last cable car down and as I slowly returned to Earth, my mind was racing at the events of the day, along with the realization that my time in Interlaken would be difficult to forget.