Monday, July 26, 2010

Fresh air, big sky

Just returned from a short activity break with my Family in the French Alps. I'd never taken a "packaged" deal activity holiday before, preferring in the past to "role my own", but having the family in tow I wanted something a bit more predictable, it turned out to be a lot of fun.

We drove down to Les Gets (pronounced "lai-jai") which is in the Portes du Soleil area just south of Geneva, it's a beautiful part of the world with stunning views over the Mont Blanc massive from it's more modest 1800-2200 metre hills. It turned out to be quite a long drive but worth it, we took more gear (kids never have enough) and also had more freedom once down there; I suppose it took around 10 hours in total but we stopped over in Reims (lovely cathedral) which broke it up nicely.

The activities we did were varied and well organised they ranged from running around ropes and wires in pine trees to more classic rock climbing and white water rafting. I also organised some paragliding on the side, as my son kept nagging me (I don't think he quite believed my tall tales of the sport from when I used to do it regularly before he was born) Les Gets is also famous for (extreme) downhill MTB or mountain biking for the uninitiated (like me!) I hadn't a clue that such an elite and specialised sub-culture existed in the bicycling fraternity, believe me this lot are complete nutters! The clique seems to consist mainly of young men who don full face helmets and body armour and then hurtle down the rutted river beds, scree slopes and forest trails of these wonderful peaks. My wife remarked how they looked like muddy "Ninja Turtles" wondering around the town at lunchtime. Obviously I had to give it a go, shear terror doesn't really do it justice, thank goodness that the bikes you use come with active suspension and disc-brakes!

Here is my son Jack taking his first flight suspended under a paraglider, we took off from 1800 metres and after some ridge gliding and some gentle G-force inducing spins we ambled down to the landing site, an Alpine meadow which was about 400 yds from our hotel. I was surprised how little the hight and exposure worried him; I seriously think he might take the sport up when he's older he hasn't stopped talking about it since we've been back.


Elizabeth said...

What an incredible picture! I was terrified just looking at it.

No way could I go on a Borthwick holiday. I would die of nervous exhaustion.

I was scared just going up on a little Ferris Wheel this summer -- the stuff you did would have finished me off.

Steve Borthwick said...

E, na, once you realised how safe you were you'd love it, the sense of freedom is fab.

I find it the ultimate de-stress environment, not much else you can think about whilst you're up there... :)

Lisa said...

Elizabeth, we could all liquored up and then give it go - whaddya say? I'm in if you are.

Steve Borthwick said...

Lisa, getting liquored up is compulsory :)