Today was Paragliding Day. Paragliding – what is that? Basically it involves finding a high point, running down a hill and then floating around, suspended by some strings attached to a fabric glider. Most of following pictures outline the process very well. I’ll have comments after the following pictures. (Spoiler: It was the most fun you can have while thinking about the possibility of plummeting to the ground.)
To begin, it started off with meeting up with Stu (the guy that controls the glider) and everyone else also paragliding too. Then went up a funicular through a hole in the mountain and founding ourselves on Blauherd (local mountain) and then hiked down to the launch point.
Making our way to the jump off point
Sheep (nothing to do with us)
Preparing the gliders
Unpacking and Setting Up
View of where we run down the hill
Once we arrive at the launch point, our glider pilots unpacked and prepared each glider, so when launch time came, we could get up in the air without the lines to the glider getting tangled. Then we waited for the right wind velocity and prepare for takeoff. The takeoff involves Stu saying, “Start walking . . . NOW RUN!” I could feel us leaving the ground and could only stop moving my legs when Stu said I could. He then helped me get correctly positioned in my harness. Within 15 seconds, we were way, way up in the air.
We moved from one side of the valley to the other. Got a great picture of us and the Matterhorn. He then wanted to go over to where he could take advantage of the lift from some rocks on the opposing hillside. This involved us heading towards the rocks, then using the rising heat to pivot us to a higher altitude. (Do you see me holding firmly to the straps?) We did this a few times and then did some spins.
Since wind currents directly impact his piloting of the glider, he told me about everything he looks at to make sure he totally understood the current conditions. Watching birds, blades of grass, smoke from chimneys, moisture evaporating from buildings – stuff like that.
Not us, but someone else landing
Everyone made is down safely and everyone said they had a great time, including me.
So why did I do this? Yes, did it for the thrill of flying around, I’ll be honest. A little danger, taking in the views, breathing the fresh mountain air, and stuff like that. I’ve jumped from a plane – this is much safer.
Yes, there were times when being on the ground would have been preferable. When you realize that you must have total faith in that person guiding the sail and he knew what he was doing, as you were looking straight down. Some of turns, with the inertia, was fun for a little bit – but not too much.
Was so grateful to have a smooth landing and be safely on the ground. It was that feeling that trumped being up in the air. Just the feeling of overwhelming gratitude. Nice!
I thanked Stu, and also when I went back to the shop to pick up the pictures they took of us, I thanked the shop owner and said I would strongly recommend his team to others who might be interested in paragliding. What a treat!
Gorner Gorge (Gornerscluckt)
Since we finished by 2:00, I had time to hike up to Gorner Gorge. This is a very narrow gorge midway up one of the hills outside of Zermatt. Lots of climbing! This gorge was not created by Disney and wasn’t easy to get to, but I eventually made it up the hill and into the gorge. Beautiful and peaceful there. Perhaps because it is a little remote, very few people visit. Nice way to spend the afternoon. When you get down into the gorge, there was a platform / pathway built on one side of the gorge, kind of like a wooden historical Columbia River Highway. Here are the pictures:
This is the same river that flows threw Zermatt.