“The Best Weekend Ever”

Finally, we arrived in the Swiss Alp village of our dreams, Gimmelwald. It was beautiful, but we were absolutely exhausted so we took a nap in my friend Olle’s house until 1 in the afternoon. We looked outside and were greeted by the massive face of a mountain. Turning around, you could see another and another--360 degrees of Swiss Alpine peaks on a sunny day is an incredible sight. We decided to throw on our snow clothes and head up the mountain to rent gear and buy a half-day ski pass. That whole afternoon I felt like I was in a ski-simulator video game with these epic mountain ranges following me the whole run.

My whole life I’ve skied at Steven’s Pass two hours outside Seattle. Until now, that's all I’ve ever known, but now I know Steven’s Pass is a sorry excuse for a ski resort. That day the slopes were a bit icey and they got slushy later but it was still the best skiing I’ve ever done. We caught our last run at about 5 and turned in our gear. We were staying at the Pension Gimmelwald with breakfast and dinner included in our room price. We requested cheese fondue for that night to get the cliché Swiss mountain-man meal experience. Delicious. That night we took it easy and massaged our sore muscles and had a few beers at the bar. Unfortunately the hostel in the town closes for the winter.

A storm was predicted for that night and we were worried that it would interfere with our plans for a big day of skiing the next day. Thankfully it cleared up by about 10 a.m., leaving us time to get up and get ready for another half-day of skiing through true beauty. These conditions were better than the day before. Fresh powder six inches deep and not a cloud in the sky. We were feeling a bit braver this day, so we took the lift all the way to the top of the mountain, the Schilthorn. Up there we had our lunch of bread and cheese and a bit of chocolate, the whole time thinking this could be our last meal. We had seen the slope of the Schilthorn from way down the mountainside on our previous runs. It looked like the embodiment of intimidation itself. When we finished eating and watching the 007 movie clips (from the James Bond thriller filmed on this peak in the 1970s) we clomped down the stairs and went out into the fresh and biting Swiss air. It is a bit nerve-wracking when you can’t see where the run goes from the top, not because of clouds but because it is that steep. This was my first double diamond, or diamond for that matter. As far as I knew, the run looked like a cliff edge. We had a friend staying behind take a last picture of our smiling faces and we turned our tips downhill.

 I felt like Warren Miller who comes out with those crazy extreme-skiing videos every year. I knew one wrong move had the potential to put me in a hospital bed at best and something much sadder at worst. But all of us made it down who attempted the feat. That memory and all the attached emotions like fear, elation, gratefulness, and finally triumph are still vividly in my head. We finished out our day of skiing and turned our gear in again at the ski shop but this time headed up to the sports center in Murren where we jumped into the hot tub. The Swiss really have things worked out. They have a fully equipped community center half way up the mountainside with an ice rink, pool, weight room, cardio room, and meeting rooms. We relaxed in the pool until it was time to catch the gondola back to Gimmelwald for dinner. 


Alex Dornacker, Central College

Happy Backpackers

I had a blast visiting Prague for the first time with WSA. To start, the hostel that WSA booked for the tour was incredible. The entire staff was very helpful, the rooms were nice, and there was a really cool bar downstairs with live music every night. Our tour guide was top notch as well. He was really fun and flexible with whatever our group wanted to do while making sure we saw all of the major sights, good places to eat, as well as the night life! I thought this trip was much easier to book through WSA rather than figure it all out myself and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get the most out of their trip!

Alex Dornacker, Central College ~ Center of Modern Languages, Granada,, Fall 2015

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