March 18, 2009
Winter sport for pensioners. Oh, and pregnant chicks.
On a typical winter Friday night, the husband and I should be bitterly bickering about the coming weekend: will it be ice climbing or alpine skiing? Cranking hard in a south facing crag or setting up for a 2000-metre-ascent back-country skiing trip? Not that it matters: as long as it involves snow, ice or rock, a decent dose of adrenaline and preferably an epic, it is all good.
Problem is, I am pregnant. Which is all good news, except for one major exception: in this new state of mine, I am apparently supposed to show common sense and a minimum of restraint. Read: avoid intense efforts, activities leading to a risk of over-heating, major falls. In a nutshell, we’d better find alternative ways of having fun, as ours don’t seem to be the ones typically recommended for a woman ‘in my condition”.
So here we are, on this late Thursday evening, fitting our gear, having driven to the Jura plateau after work for a 3-day snowshoeing and cross country skiing week-end. Which, for my dearest husband, is more akin to “stuff for pensioners” than to anything worth being called a sport.
It may be so, but tonight, as we get ready in the dark, it quickly looks like the wannabe pensioners will get a bit of adventure. For a start, it has snowed heavily all day, and driving to the plateau has already provided us with some action. No surprise then that the “well marked” track supposed to take us to the refuge in a 45 minute snowshoe hike is nowhere to be seen. Here are we then, plodding along in knee-deep snow for the husband, tight-deep for me. After 15 minutes, the faint tracks we could just about guess suddenly disappear for good. We, of course, have a compass. Which, of course, is totally useless given we don’t have the faintest idea where we are. Back on our own tracks then. Eventually, after more than twice the time it would have taken on a normal day, we at last get to the refuge, where the owner, feeling sorry for our freezing selves, feeds us tartiflette. Pity feels good, sometimes.
The next day is earmarked as The Full Pensioner Experience: a full day of snowshoeing. Jura is not Greenland, and the plateau has some marked tracks for those who want. Of course, we are not among them, and decide to leave straight out for the powder, equipped with our map and compass.
Seven hours later, we are back at the refuge. Shattered. We have been once again stunned by the magnificent view on Mont Blanc, seated by the cliff bordering the plateau. We have marvelled at the crystal-like flakes of a weightless snow, shinning in the winter sun and at a lonely flower, miraculously sticking out of the powder. We have wondered about animal tracks tracing their ways across the plateau. And we have been plodding along in ultra-deep, ultra-light powder for the whole day, went up slopes we would not have dreamed of tackling with the skis on, jumped cornices, crawled under bushes to make our way through the forest, and somehow managed to climb a cumulative 600 metres on a plateau which would look as flat as a pancake on Google Earth. Our legs are hurting, our arms are hurting, our backs are hurting. In a nutshell, a perfect day.
And on Monday morning, the husband would almost be happy to be back at work and get a chance to rest, since a gentle sports outing for pensioners or pregnant chicks, maybe it was not, after all.