Engelberg: Purple pistes


What do you get when you mix a blue run and a red run? A purple one. As a beginner (I’ve now been skiing a staggering 4 times), I tend to stick to blue runs. Red, the universal colour of danger appears somewhat threatening to a novice so I avoid red runs like the plague. Heading up to Engelberg I was sent off on a blue course alone, confident that I could handle it. The sun was shining and I got chatting to a lovely Dutch pensioner who showed me how to dismount a chair lift. Having spectacularly ballsed that up I brushed off the snow and continued down the seemingly easy hills of a comfortable blue run. Little did I know that this merged with a red run ahead in an oncoming blizzard.
In these situations there is only one way to get down, so you plough your heart out and hope for the best. After countless times falling I gave up, dismounted my skis, laid them down on the ground and headed down on my front, head first. At the time it seemed like the only sensible thing to do. With no real ability to break, you just have to close your eyes and believe that you’ll make it to the bottom alive.
Exhausted at the lift I contemplated finding my friends for lunch and picked up my skis. It wasn’t until I reached the top and tried clicking in to them that I realised that they were not the skis I rented. In the most stealthy manoeuvre possible, I made it back down on the next funicular, dropped the temporarily stolen skis and located my own in time to get back on the next lift. With all the mix up, I’d managed to rid the adrenaline from the previous attempts at skiing and became confident enough to get back to the restaurant for a cheese coma.
I still may not be ready for purple runs just yet, but on the second attempt I made it all the way down without falling over once. Once again I learned to believe in my physical capabilities. It is really easy to give up when something is difficult or scary, but given that this was only my fourth time on the slopes, I’m actually nailing it.


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