I opened my eyes.
Instead of cow bells I could hear voices saying “Sam, are you ok in there? Do you need some help?” in a muffled and concerned tone. I mumbled back I think so.
My hands and toes were frozen. I tried to breathe but the air was thin and I couldn’t get enough into my lungs. I felt dizzy and the toilet cubicle was spinning. The room looked upside down. That’s when I realised it was.
“Um, I think I fainted.”
The past hour rushed through my mind: get out of chairlift, run, no sprint to glacier, stand on top of glacier, try and make a snowball, throw snowball, go into glacier cave, go down glacier slide, run back to the top, rush down again, I think I feel sick, no you don’t, GO GO GO!
When we were about halfway up, the first member of our group started complaining of feeling sick. He felt dizzy and nauseous and although he didn’t want to miss out on this amazing experience, he simply felt too ill to continue. I too realised the air was much thinner up here but was so overwhelmed with excitement I tried to ignore it.
I got onto the next chairlift and let it take me higher and higher. I felt like I was flying, soaring, leaving the real world far below.
The coldness hit me even harder when we finally got to the top. But there was no way I was letting it stop me. I skipped with excitement through the tunnel and out onto the glacier. Yes, that’s right! A Glacier!!!
I clawed at the ice until my fingers were raw. I managed to create a snowball but there was no way I was going to build a snowman. I threw it and watched the ice crystals sparkle in the sun.
The American tourists laughed at my fascination with the ice/snow.
“If you had to shovel piles and piles out of your doorway, you wouldn’t find it as beautiful!”
But it was beautiful. And magical. And there were so many things to do. I wanted to hike right up to the top. I wanted to go down into the glacier cave. I didn’t have the right shoes or clothes but that wasn’t going to stop me.
Granma was really feeling the cold and change in atmosphere. She decided a coffee inside was a better option than the glacier cave. She remembered getting altitude sickness when she had gone to Mount Whistler years ago.
Down we went. There were ice statues of houses and deer and beer bottles and mountains. And then we hit the jackpot. A slide!
There was a rope across it (this should have been a warning) but that didn’t stop us. There were warning signs in 4 different languages but that was also ignored.
I sat down on the ice and felt it soak through my clothes and start to freeze my bones. And then I pushed off. I flew down, screaming in delight all the way down. The others followed me. And then we hit our second jackpot. Cushions. Aha! You are meant to go down the slide on the cushions!
We ran back up, if possible, giggling even harder.
This time when I pushed off, I really flew. I bashed into the icy walls numerous times, I was going so fast I couldn’t steer, and was propelled another metre through the air when I hit the bottom.
It was exhilarating.
Not long after I told my companions a) my camera lens had frozen over it was so cold and b) I didn’t feel well.
They all felt slightly queasy too and said it was normal. Nevertheless we decided to head back up to the cafe to warm up.
At this point I REALLY didn’t feel well and stumbled to the toilets, the world spinning. Please let me make it before I throw up.
“Sam, can you get up? Can you open the door.”
I reached up, unlocked the door and crawled out. My fellow tour members picked me up and helped me out to the cafe where I slumped into a chair. I remember being given some really warm red gloves with a Swiss flag on them, a hot chocolate and my tour guides jacket being wrapped around me and realising when I fainted I had smashed my camera.
They said it was altitude sickness. Granma said we should go back down the mountain to the hotel. My tour guide said he would carry me. I said no I want to hike the glacier. They ignored me.
I still maintain it was the best day of my life.