Departed from München, Bavaria, Germany on Jun 24, 2012 4:20pm CEST. Arrived at Praha, Hlavní Mesto Praha, Czech Republic on Jun 27, 2012 11:23pm CEST.See the trip: EuroTrip2012
Anastasiall's Sunday June 24th, 2012
Another sensational Swiss city, welcome to Interlaken! Home away from home, and one of Europe's most famous hostels, Balmer's is a sweet place to stay. It's a group of 3 Swiss style houses that have dining rooms, the popular Metro bar, couches an even a hammock room! The place was bustling with people walking in and out, looking adventurous and talking about their day's outing. On top of that, there were dozens of pamphlets and lists of all the crazy thrill rides that Interlaken offers. I was immediately drawn in and was deciding among the canyoning, paragliding, skydiving, bungy jumping, hiking to the top of Europe, glaciering, canyon swinging and more. At the spur of the moment, I thought, where else would I get to squeeze myself between glacier walls and pick my way up? Ice climbing it is!
9am. With a group of 4- Jeremy the kiwi, Andrew from China, Rose from Kentucky and our guide Hano- I enjoyed the hour roller coaster like car ride up the mountains into a municipality of Interlaken called Gadmen. We reached an area full of rocks, mountains with icy snow, glaciers and clear, flowing streams. Following Hano, we filled our packs with water & lunch jackets, a helmet, our ice picks and crampons (the shoe spikes). Up the stream and up the rocks we went, eventually holding on to a rope attached to everyone down the line. We were fairly high up, and one faulty step would lead to some not so fun somersaulting down the rocks. After strapping on our crampons and adding a layer of clothing, we trekked up the ice with exceptional grip. On the ice, surrounded by snow-topped mountains, and looking below at two turquoise lakes, we ate a quick lunch 2,200meters high on Stein Glacier. It loses about a millimeter of ice every hour and a considerable amount each year. Hano drilled nails and set up the ropes, and finally we walked over to the dark glacier crevice.
Finally, we were hooked on and my job was to belay as Rose took the first climb. So close to the edge, I held on tight and pulled the rope as Rose came up. Then my turn! Something that has always made me super nervous, I repelled over the icy edge with eagerness. Falling fast and planting my crampons hard into the clear solid, I ended up down below and in between thick iced walls with only a dark bottom. With Hano's instructions in mind, left foot- kick into the ice. Secure? Yes, okay, right foot kick. One more step, last one feet apart for balance. Secure? Hug the wall and use my legs to extend my body upward. Time to use the picks- I felt dangerous as I thrust my ice pick above me, knowing that whack could've killed anything. Right pick first with my strong hand, pull, then left pick. Feet. Push up! Picks. Ahhhh pain!
They say you don't need to have upper body strength to do this, but that's a bunch of bull. You need to be strong in every way, physically and mentally. Hano doesn't hold on to our ropes at all, so it's up to us. The first time was exhilarating; I understood how to use my body and that my arms are going to hurt. But the second time, up a different, and steeper, area of ice was much harder. Same with the other climbs, my arms began shaking, and my left arm dissappointed me to no end; I threw the pick with ferocity, but it just wouldn't hit the ice properly. Even once I landed my picks successfully, pulling up seemed nearly impossible, and I had to put everyvery thing into it. What sucked was when I reached a point, slipped and fell another foot. Or I of a good stick, and ice started falling on top of me in chunks you had to move out of the way to avoid them. The best feeling was when you were so close to the top, give an extra heave, scream, grunt & sigh, and climb to the top of the edge with the idea of totally glory and a big smile on your face. All five climbs were completely exhausting, not to mention cold & wet, but absolutely enjoyable. I only scraped up my elbows and knee since I wasn't wearing a long sleeve around the sharp ice, and got a little sunburnt! I have never before challenged myself so much as I did on that glacier. And it was fun especially with the other guys, as we all encouraged each other and took photos of each other yelling and struggling up the sides. There was a small avalanche up there too!
Rose was the last to come up- she dropped way far down and reached the top soaked and dead tired. We removed the crampons, roped everyone up, and began the trip down the mountain on the snow path. It was so slick that we got to slide down on our boots. I fell first and everyone followed as Hano yanked on the rope, and we sled down! That was hilarious. Top of some rocks again, and back down, as we followed the stream back to the van. The weather was fantastic and I was so ready to camp for the night. However, we headed back to town and had a beer together in the shop.
That's where I met Julie, who worked at the hang gliding place. Now, hang gliding has been on my bucket list for a while, and I was here and there about doing it since it was pretty pricy. I figured if I'm ever going to spend money on it, this is the place to do it. So she called the pilot, and I took the 8am flight!
Getting out of bed was pretty tough. Ice climbing after snowboarding and not a lot of sleep in between, and I was just dog tired. Considering those activities were also physically demanding, I was ridiculously sore, everywhere. But I was out front and ready to go at 7. About a 20 minute car ride up a mountain, called Beatenberg, near the lake, the pilots Bernie & Ed, the other kid Adrian and I unloaded the car, took a short hike, and arrived at a small open field. My pilot was Ed, and he was hilarious. We set up the wings, he strapped me up and we had a fun photo shoot. After a brief run through of what would happen, we waited on the slope until the wind draft came upward. He asked if I was ready. Yep! 3-2-1 we started running...then all of a sudden up we went! I was flying! It was so smooth and the view incredible. Perfect for a morning flight- slight cloud cover, sunlight gently streaming through the shadows, and a nice thermal draft which we were coasting on. A bunch of photos and good conversation made the flight wonderful. As we drifted over the lake, he even let me steer! Then we did some stalls and swirls, getting fairly close to the trees below. Soon, we were only a few feet high off the ground and ready for landing. It was so smooth I couldn't believe it; we were just gliding on the grass until we came to a stop and that was it! Not as thrilling as free falling, but equally as amazing. For sure, I am definitely getting my license! More photos, some beer, and I met the next two customers, Sadia & Barren, who said we could stay with them in Munich! So off to Salzburg for now!
Met Phil June and Brandon Haden at the YoHo hostel that was too full. So we all found a hotel, and I got my own room. I don't mind dorm style at all, but this was a relaxing break from the obnoxious snoring and late night entrances that might wake me up in hostels. While the guys went out til 3am, I enjoyed the solitude. Considering my body was still aching terribly, and I found many new cuts & bruises everywhere, the quiet room guaranteed a solid sleep. I saw the only things I wanted to in Salzburg- Mozart's birthplace and film locations from The Sound of Music.See the trip: EuroTrip2012
Departed from Interlaken, Bern, Switzerland on Jun 21, 2012 8:23pm CEST. Arrived at München, Bavaria, Germany on Jun 24, 2012 4:00pm CEST.See the trip: EuroTrip2012