Mountains is a pilgrimage destination for depressed, lost and bored. The silent whisper of the God’s most powerful incarnations is calling us from the distance, we need to get really high to hear it better, in a literal sense. I wasn’t depressed, but I was bored and thirsty for change. I was standing on the doorstep of the adulthood thinking Is this it? Now what? The city was deafening, there was less and less air left to breathe therefore I decided to leave the comfort of mild British winter and travel to the formidable climate of French Alps. Physical exhaustion, elements and the comfort of friendly bar in the presence of the familiar face is a combination resistant to any depression. There is no time to overanalyze, ponder or wallow, only time to act. Go down the slope, go up the slope and embrace raw and untamed power of nature.
The birthday weekend in Chamonix was definitely a change from the usual birthday destination Paris and to my surprise, it opened a new era of adventure which restored the justice to being an early January child. It may not be BBQ in the park, but what BBQ can compare to a glass of gluhwein on the top of Mont Blanc, figuratively speaking. I was wrong thinking that a 4 day trip to the ski resort can only result in a moderate amount of fun and holiday romance is only possible in the backdrop fiery sunsets and bikinis, it’s just as likely to happen in the backdrop of snowstorms and thermal undergarments.
Chamonix is reminiscent of an international summer camp abroad. You may want to meet new people but language barrier reduces the experience to making out in the local night club. I did that 15 years ago in Italy, yet today not much has changed, I was still making out in the corner of the club with a guy who hardly spoke any english. And yet, before I turned 30, I was anticipating a visit from the elusive lady called Maturity, which despite my best hopes, remained a no show. Today, I hear, growing up is becoming notoriously unfashionable amongst millennial crowd, and while I am still not entirely sure what generational label I was prescribed, I’ll just chose what suits me the best – do whatever fuck I want.
The crowd in Chamonix is close to the crowd of Marbella, predominantly english yet not overwhelmingly embarrassing. Stag do’s, company’s all-lads debauched ski trips, fathers and sons bonding holiday, and what do you know, British Army. Women however, were in the minority which wasn’t completely bad news for me, although towards the end of the trip I was practicing my biblical eye-roll every time a middle aged bolding John tried to find out where is the best place to hang out or asking where my accent was from. There were also the likes of married Eliots who shamelessly paraded his wedding band while trying to give me a neck massage, Martins from Morrisons who’s young age was his only excuse, unfortunately not great enough to overcompensate his lack of the game skills (if any), there were young British soldiers Gilberts who just turned 20 and already wanted to marry me.
Chamonix is an easy place to lose your sense of age. In Chamonix age becomes an illusion, both in philosophical and practical terms. I felt it especially strong when I was taking my first ever ski lesson next to a string of 5 year olds who were kicking my ass while I struggled to keep my skis in parallel. Children make everything look so easy. Was it the smell of burning log, mountain air, chalet style huts or sheepskins, but being in the mountains makes you feel alive on so many levels. Playfulness definitely presides in the air along with memory of long gone days when climate warming was still a science fiction and our Christmases were white. Nothing is off limits in Chamonix as long as you stay warm and open minded. The friendliness of locals and optimism of seasonaires makes you feel home away from home. If I arrived feeling a little bit off piste, I left Chamonix feeling on top.