Today was one of the most exhilarating and fantastic days I’ve spent in Europe so far. Even though we didn’t get off to the best start, our day skiing in the alps was more wonderful than I ever could have imagined. 

A month or two ago, Shannon asked me if I would be interested in skiing during Christmas while in Switzerland. I said that maybe I would, but was unsure about the difficulty level and the fun-to-cost-and-pain ration being worth it. Even yesterday I wasn’t sure if I would ski or not, and Ryan and I had decided that if we didn’t, we could spend the day in Zermatt and explore the town while the rest skied. However, with everyone else talking about it and looking forward to the day, we decided to take the opportunity and give it a try. It was so worth it!

Since we’re staying in Domodossola, it takes about 2 hours by train to get to Zermatt. It always takes a few hours to get ready and rent gear, plus the sun goes down so early this time of year and with the mountains it gets dark pretty quick and the lifts close at 4:30. Because of all this, we planned on getting up at five and leaving on the 6:15 train with one connection. Everyone got up and got all ready right on time with no problems. Shannon was kind enough to lend me pretty much everything I needed–rain pants, a thermal shirt, and even a fleece jacket. We packed up our bags and headed down to the hotel lobby right before six. Strangely, the stairwell was locked and we couldn’t even get out to the main door. Apparently the lobby and reception area doesn’t open until seven, so after a few minutes of running around and trying to figure out the way out, Justin used his sweet Spanish skills to talk to the Italian owner and finally we were able to leave. We got to the train station just in time and continued to the station where our connection left.

Once again, a few minor problems (not buying tickets fast enough) caused us to miss the first train to Zermatt and have to wait an hour. None of us minded too much and before we knew it we were on our way again. Even though it was quite dark and foggy, the train ride up to Zermatt was awesome. The track got very steep and we climbed higher and higher. We were worried that it would be too foggy to see the Matterhorn, and when we arrived in town it seemed that we were right. It took awhile, but finally we had lift tickets, skis (snowboards for Josh and Justin), boots and poles. 
Zermatt was such a cute town, but we could only see it for a little bit before it was lost in the clouds. However, the closer we got to the very top, the more the fog began to clear. We reached the top and I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. The view of the Alps was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I wish I could show it in photos but they really can't do it justice. The first few glances were crystal clear of the tops of the mountains, and looking down we were literally skiing above the clouds. As the day wore on, the sky cleared entirely and we could see all the way down to the village and all around at the top. The Matterhorn itself was amazing and seemed so close! 

Since the mountain is SO huge, we only ran the entire thing twice. We didn’t get to the gondolas until around eleven so we weren’t all ready to start skiing down until before noon (with a small mix-up about which stop to get off at). However, there are partial lifts on sections so we did run those a few times. The skiing was so much fun! It was also slightly terrifying for me since the last time I skied was almost two years ago in South Dakota and I’ve only been a handful of times in my life. Luckily I have the best of friends here who waited patiently for me at each fork and Shannon talked me through several turns on our first run. I fell plenty of times, which mostly consisted of tipping over into the mountain while turning. I was actually very surprised that I could do the runs without any walking or sliding down on my bum! Plus since the mountain is so huge, you just keep going down and down and it feels like you are never going to reach the bottom. Ski runs are a little different here so there’s no green circle, blue square, or black diamond. According to our map it looks like we stayed mostly on easy and moderate trails. 

It was about two when we reached the bottom the first time, so we all stopped for a quick energy bar before continuing. We ran the whole thing again and got picked up by the bus right around five. We returned our gear and headed for the grocery store we’d spotted earlier and loaded up on food for the train ride home since none of us had eaten pretty much all day. Happy and exhausted, I loved sitting for two hours, speeding through the alps and knowing that I’d not only survived but had loved my day skiing in the Alps. 
grandma
1/2/2013 04:32:54 pm

Oh, Shelby, you did it! You skied the Alps! And it sounds like you had a wonderful day. Did they all enjoy it as much as you did? Your pictures are great and the Matterhorn is, well---so high! I'm so happy you and Ryan decided to ski. Bet you all sleep good tonight. Love you good!

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Sheri Seibold
1/2/2013 05:44:49 pm

I can't believe my eyes, I can't believe my ears. My daughter skiing in the Alps. Thank you, Shannon and the rest, for making this day one Shel will remember for a lifetime.

It looks absolutely stunning. It sounds amazing. And no broken limbs, the best news for this mom to hear.

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Susan Tucker
1/2/2013 06:01:48 pm

Totally awesome, Shelby! I am jealous of your day in the Alps. I love to ski and the closest I have been to the Matterhorn is at Disneyland. :)

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Meg
1/3/2013 05:44:16 am

I LOVED reading about your skiing in the Alps adventure!! Can you believe you can now say "I have skiied in the Alps!" I love and admire your spirit of adventure, Shel. I was thinking about you as Lijah and I were on the planes/roads to and from KC, Atlanta (layover),& Orlando and I was feeling tired and all worn out of traveling.....I am NOT a good traveler! You have such a true gift for it and it's so fun getting to see that and "come along" with you through your blog!

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Tom S
1/3/2013 11:49:34 am

As the Carpenters might say it:

She's on the top of the world . . . looking down on creation
And the only explanation she can find . . .
Is the lift that she found . . . when her ski friends came around
Her pals put her on the top of the world!

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Aubnt Donna
1/4/2013 11:02:18 am

Shelby! So glad you and Justin did this trip! Like your Dad, (or was it your Grandpa) I see a book coming out of this! Love, Aunt Donna

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