April 24, 2017 – 1:00PM
Today is a bit of a tough day, and it’s hard to believe that it is already here. I’m sitting at Geneva Airport, waiting for the next onward flight. This time I’m alone.
This morning Matt and I said our goodbyes to Chamonix, after 7 amazing weeks of skiing in the Alps. A few hours later we said our goodbyes to each other, after almost 3 months of travelling together and seeing some incredible places. We both struggled to choke back the tears. Today Matt heads home to Canada (to face the grim reality of going back to work next week :)), while I continue to head east for the second (and non-skiing) stage of this round the world trip.
Yesterday, Matt and I were saying how leaving Chamonix was kind of like leaving Tadoussac after weeks of summer holidays. It’s a special place that has obviously grown on both of us, and I am sure we’ll both be back someday. Saying bye to Matt was also tough, but in a different kind of way.
There aren’t many people in the world who I would follow blindly into the mountains, but Matt is one of them. Growing up as kids, the five year age gap between the two of us at times seemed enormous, but at recently 28 and still hanging on to 32, the age gap is non-existent. For the past three months we’ve challenged each other, and looked out for each other, to complete some of the most intense, craziest, scariest, funnest skiing that we’ve ever done.
On the bus in to Geneva this morning we were discussing that when you’re doing all of this stuff you don’t really realize the full magnitude of what you’re up to, because you’re so focused on the moment. It’s only once you take a step back after the fact and reflect on the experience (like I am doing right now), that the accomplishments kind of sink in: almost 50 days of skiing in Morocco, France, Switzerland, Italy, all completed with only each other (and a few friends along the way) to guide us. With the exception of a broken binding and a weak stomach in the Atlas Mountains, we did it all without so much as a scratch. Which I consider to be fortunate (obviously), but also a reflection of preparation, planning, and decision-making out in the backcountry. None of which would be possible without taking the time to learn the appropriate skills, practice them, and continuing to gain experience. We’ve come a long way from Spillway, Power Line, and Windigo.
As the eldest sibling of three (I assume this extends to eldest siblings in general), there is a tendency to assume that the oldest always knows better. When Matt and I are out in the backcountry, that tendency doesn’t exist. It has been a lot of fun, not only this year, listening and learning from my “little” brother, particularly as he starts dabbling in professional-level avalanche training courses and, while at home, spends far more time in the mountains than I could hope for with my regular 9 to 5 job. I still offer my advice and thoughts, but not from “older-brother-knows-better” point of view. And together we continue to arrive at good decisions and agreements. The skiing in the Southern Hemisphere, excited as I am about it, won’t be the same without Matt.
Despite the sad emotions today, there is still plenty to be excited about. A little later this afternoon I will hop on a plane to Istanbul, where I’ll have three full days to explore a new and exciting city. My friend Marie-Marguerite has graciously allowed me to stay at her place, even though she is also off travelling. And then, on Friday night I will fly to Kathmandu to realize a long time dream of trekking to Everest Base Camp. Kim will meet me there on Monday and we’ll have the next two months to spend together. Not bad at all…