While recently skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland within the comfort and safety of the resort, I was overwhelmed with the towering mountain landscape that is the Alps. Having skied a lot at resorts in the United States, this panoramic view was like nothing I had ever experienced. The runs were long and secluded; sometimes I found myself making turn after turn with my husband as the only other person in sight. It was as if we had our own personal mountain. The views were so awe-inspiring that although I was ready for a break, I pushed forward and focused on rewarding myself with lunch in Cervinia, Italy. My legs were tired, already sore from three days on the slopes, but I could not pass up the opportunity to ski over international borders.
As I stepped off the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise lift at 12,740ft, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful vista that surrounded me, but I was also shocked by the extreme change in climate. I knew having gone up in elevation that there would be a vast glacial terrain, but I was not prepared for the conditions. At -13 degrees Fahrenheit and 30mph winds, it was the weather that took my breath away, not the views. Within seconds of taking my gloves off to get a few pictures, my hands were painfully numb, and I was unable to hold onto the camera. I fumbled trying to get my gloves back on and headed as fast as I could down the long, open glacier run into Italy hoping to find a place to rest inside as soon as possible. The winds were blowing so hard that I found it difficult to control my turns. While the gondola was full coming up, I realized that my husband and I were the only ones around and thought it was likely that we were the only ones crazy enough to stay up here. My husband took one look at me and began to massage my nose, telling me that it looked frostbitten. The cold had affected me so quickly. I was already cold and hungry before we started this run, but now I was getting desperate for both food and shelter.