It has been a very busy and crazy last few weeks. I completed my South African Advanced Mountain Leader certification at the end of March, a tough and grueling experience with a slightly chauvinistic assessor, then flew out to Switzerland less than a week later to help teach a group of kids from India how to ski (what an amazing experience) and I am now on the road, travelling Switzerland and visiting friends and family.
Its been wonderful to be kept so busy and active and to feel like I have achieved something. Doing my AML (Advanced Mountain Leader) was far more challenging than I thought it would be. I was in an area I had not hiked before, being assessed with someone who knew the area backwards. I was constantly being shown up by this guy who always managed to find our location on the map first, with more accuracy… Go figure hey! This always made me look like the incompetent one, although I was the only one having to actually work things out. In the end I was told that my navigation skills were sufficient but needed work. Well of course it looks like they need work when everyone else on the hike has done that route several times and knows exactly where they are. I do have one triumph though, we were doing assisted descents and I was body belaying from above as they I was doing this the assessor suddenly yanked on the rope as if the person i was belaying had fallen. Naturally I held the position and stopped the fall but I got such a look of disappointment from the assessor as I could tell he was hoping his weight would dislodge me from my position so he could make an example of me. In face your, bitch, I’m a rock climber! I know how to belay! In the end he passed me, as really there was nothing he could fail me on and I merely await the South African governments final stamp of approval to get the official certification.
That completed, I prepared for my flight out to Switzerland the and wonderful, majestic words-are-not-enough Alps where I would be helping 10 kids from Mumbai learn how to ski. What an unexpected surprise. These kids took to the snow like a duck to water. They thrived on friendly competition and supported and helped each other until they were all able to ski. Naturally some were weaker than others but there was never any nastiness or boasting, only congratulations and encouragement. Those kids were about the nicest I have ever had the pleasure of working with. If half the kids in the world had an attitude like them, this world would be an amazing place.
I am now taking the much needed pay check I got from that week of work to travel the Swiss countryside. I have filled up the tank in my van and until the petrol runs out Switzerland is my oyster. From lake Geneva to the ski slopes of Verbier and the mountains of St Moritz I will see it all before I start working again at the end of the month.