May 30 2006
We sleep in Randa, after a nice ride through beautiful Wallis. We’re surrounded by huge mountains, many of them more that 4000 metre high. 15 years ago I tried to climb one of them, the 4500 metre Dom, but this climbing adventure also ended almost in a disaster. I got an very rapidly spreading infected blister on my ankle (the infection probably came from an infected tooth, as the dentist suggested a few months later) and that can have serious consequences when you are climbing at 4200 metre altitude. My concentration was totally gone, I had a high fever and I just told my climbing partners “Leave me here, while you go to the top and I’ll go down with you later.” I also was totally exhausted and had to take three breaths before every step. Unfortunately the symptoms started when we were climbing on a narrow, very steep, icy ridge and the only way out was 200 metres up. I did my best to ram my crampons in the snow as good as I could but when we were almost there I fell. My climbing partner, who was on the same rope as me, fortunately had already arrived on the rock and thus had enough traction to keep my fall. She did sprain a few ribs though. If I had fallen 20 metres lower we probably both would have been dead and maybe we had even killed some more people when we rolled down like two bowling balls with a rope between them.
But that didn’t happen and at the time I didn’t even realize it could have happened. I was just in a big groggy cloud. When my climbing partners finally got me safely to the hut I bought them an expensive bottle of wine and then I slept for 14 hours straight. The next day we still had to hike down 1500 metres to Randa, with my swollen and very painful foot. The helicopter that landed every 5 minutes to bring building materials to the hut wasn’t allowed to give me a lift. The first twenty minutes of the hike down were hell but after that my foot was so swollen in my boot that it didn’t hurt that much anymore. The infected foot took two weeks to heal, so my holiday was over for that year, after only 4 days in Switzerland.
But today, the weather is fine, and we’re only going for an easy hike, in Zermatt, near the Matterhorn.