I call myself an International Chemist & Adventurer, so it should only be correct that when I go abroad I have adventures, right? Switzerland is one of the best places in Europe to go if you enjoy outdoor activities – you can’t resist that Alpine goodness and all that fresh air.
Thus, I present to you a summary of 12 months of adventures:
1. Dragonboat Racing.
The call for volunteers to take part in a day of Dragonboat racing came shortly after I joined the running club. I figured it would be a good way to get to know the fellow runners and it didn’t sound too serious…so that was that. Spending an afternoon competing against other amateur teams was great fun (and we got a free t-shirt), even though we didn’t win any of the races. We also didn’t capsize either – thought I should mention that.
Another invitation I picked up near the start of my time in Basel, this one for an organised introduction to ice climbing. It turns out to be totally different from rock climbing – probably a bit more physically demanding and gives you bruised knees from all the times you fall and crash into the ice. The introduction course was aimed at complete beginners and was rather tame – climbing out of a pre-rigged crevice in a glacier – but I imagine that doing it in other locations would be much more exciting and challenging.
The same social group who got me down to the Alps for ice climbing later went out for a snowshoeing day. My last experience of snowshoeing was in America where we had to go off-track into dense woodland. The Swiss are less gung ho about their winter recreation than the Americans, so we had very nice pre-flattened trails to walk along.
I tried it, fear got the better of me. Perhaps I was just having an off-day (it hadn’t been a good week for me that week), but on my second time on skis I was at a crowded resort and got panicked by the volume of people rushing past me and the angle of the slope. I could not make myself ski that day. Which annoyed me because most action-adventure sports do not give me much of a problem, certainly nothing I wish to shy away from. Skiing is something I hope I will try again in the future, but the costs of hiring gear then travelling down to the Alps for a day meant it was too expensive to risk another failure that year.
5. Mountain Biking.
I was only starting to get the hang of mountain biking during a day on the hills with some friends (who were far more savvy at mountain biking than I was), but it felt like a good Swiss summer pursuit and was quite fun once you worked out how to balance and control the bike. At one point the bike wheel jammed because it was so muddy, at several other points I had to get off and carry the bike up a narrow, icy trail path. In the typical Swiss fashion, we made a couple of stops for hot chocolate in mountain restaurants along the way…
6. Aerial Rope Courses.
I REALLY wanted to do some via ferrata whilst I was in Switzerland (pre-fixed adventure courses on the top of mountains with rope and harness). In the end the closest thing I got was an aerial rope course in a forest. Ziplining and navigating assault courses was good fun: I didn’t have much fear of falling off, especially not after I managed to fall off.
While perhaps not as adventurous as a 2-month Antarctica expedition for example, I feel that in trying out new things as the opportunities arise adheres at least to the spirit of adventurousness. Hopefully there will be more adventures to report following my next 12 months…