Shooting uncontrollably down the escarpment, head first, like a human snow plough, I wondered like Creep by Radiohead: “What the hell am I doing here!” In what felt like a terribly long and much too fulfilling life time, I managed to shift my limbs into a spread eagle position. Painfully using my hands and ski boots as breaks, I was able to slow down and eventually stall my descent.
My face was so numb, I actually wondered if it had rubbed off and was now lingering somewhere further uphill, looking into space, pondering upon life, the universe and everything.
The rest of me felt as if had been through an ice crusher, which of course was pretty close to the actual reality.
I blinked a couple of times to get the snow out of my eyes, and as I looked to my right I saw the cause of my misfortune, my phone, come elegantly snowboarding down, looking as if it were in its natural element. In spite of the fact that moving a muscle was the last thing I wanted to do, I shot out an arm and grabbed the d… thing just before it sailed down into a white irretrievable oblivion.
The phone’s video camera that I had set in motion further up the mountain was still running. It had, I later discovered, recorded the whole chain of events. From the moment I was lamebrained enough to take off my glove in freezing, windy -15 degrees to record the amazing sights of a fairy-tale landscape with lavishly frosted trees, red tinted mountain tops above which the moon and the sun were playing hide and seek among feathery clouds (and blablablablabla, as if I bl… cared now!) to the point where my front was unceremoniously buried into the unforgiving, hard packed, dead cold snow.
Focusing on videoing and not skiing, I never saw the bump coming out of the white to catapult me, my skis and my phone into the air, all of us moving at different speeds and in what to an observer must have seemed an interesting diversity of manners and directions. Only I screamed, though, in midair, a tad apprehensive about what exciting conclusion my much unwarranted flight would come to.
Now I knew, and it definitely was not one I would have chosen if I’d had any say in the matter. I jammed the phone shut and put it inside my jacket. There was not a chance in a Hell that was already frozen over, that I would be able to open any of my pockets; my gloveless hand was hurting like crazy, and any movement demanding motoric precision was out of the question. I tried easing it back into the glove, but had to give it up, and resorted to putting the numb limb inside my jacket, as close to my body as possible.
Miraculously, I singlehandedly… got my skies back on and made my way, body shaking, teeth rattling, down the mountain. There was only one thought in my knuckleheaded head; to get me and my to the bone chilled hand, out of the freaking cold.
As I slowly and with excruciating pain regained the feeling in my hand, I took a moment to think back on the day. None of it, actually, had been a smooth ride. The alarm did go off as it was supposed to at the brutal break of dawn, but from then on most things went downhill, long before we even got to the ski resort:
The car’s ski box was not, it turned out, the car’s ski box, but another car’s ski box. Which fortunately belonged to us too, but whose ski box fitting brackets were frozen solid and refused to be shifted into a ski box bearing position. After a whole lot of creative ski box cursing and not very diplomatic ski box negotiations, the ski box fittings sulkily succumbed.
Finding enough space for skis, poles, boots, helmets, goggles, backpacks and persons were easier said the night before than done the morning after. However, after some serious stuffing and restuffing, we finally hit the road. None of us was pretty comfortable, with gear coming out of our ears, but we were happy; we were going skiing.
Or so we thought, until the driver not long into our ride, lost his usual calm and started wrenching the gear this way and that, with all his might eventually managing to force it into 2nd gear and get us off the road. Where the car came to a complete and definite stop. The smoke emerging from the hood, accompanied by a distinctly burned smell, convinced us that this was the end of this particular road.
An obviously indecisive fate had it that our landing strip was actually a gas station, merely a stone’s throw away from several other landing strips; the airport. And where there’s an airport, there’s car rental.
Following a few phone calls, a taxi ride, some paperwork, no-nonsense shifting of cargo, crew and passengers, we were on the road again. High in spirits, low on cash…
As I was now slowly getting back both the use of my senses and my limbs, summing up the day, I was sure of one thing: Je ne regrette rien! I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It had taken some effort, and I had taken some beating, but the gold at the end of a bumpy rainbow may be well worth both exertion and trashing. Easy living is all about attitude, not about absence of pain and effort. With that conviction I scooped up the last gold of the day by taking a few delicious runs into the sunset. My phone tucked away, deep in the pocket of my jacket.