Workation France: Après-ick

I was sick of being sick.

We’d been in France for about a month, and I’d been sick most of that time. Just as I started to feel better, I came back from visiting our friends in Hamburg with an upper-respiratory gunk. In late June, a bright morning sun shone over Chamonix and I glared out our top-floor apartment window at the perfect day to spend outdoors, desperately trying not to think about being cooped up indoors. Again.

But I couldn’t help thinking about it. Tears welled up. I fought them, but that made them burst out all at once in a deluge of frustration.

For a month, I’d barely climbed or hiked. I wasn’t deathly ill, of course, just enough to stop me from doing what I’d come to Chamonix to do. And our apartment is way too small to spend so much time in–especially on laundry day, because we don’t have a clothes dryer, so everything hangs on a drying rack on the “living room” for about 24 hours… I missed my health, my doctor, our dryer, my sanity.

In the middle of my fit, Jeremy asked me: “Do you want to go home?”

“NO!” I shouted, “I’m not leaving until we climb more, till we do everything we wanted to do, even if we have to stay longer to do it now!”

Topping out on the Aiguillette d'Argentière

Topping out on the Aiguillette d'Argentière

My outburst somehow expunged the last of the ick. By afternoon, I had energy I hadn’t felt in a month. The next day, we climbed at Les Gaillands, and I felt good. The next day, Friday, we traded babysitting for guided climbing (an excellent deal if you have a good mountain guide with an adorable and extremely well-behaved 3-year-old). Then we spent the weekend on a climbing rampage: five pitches at Vallorcine, dodging ibex on a romp to and up the Aiguillette d’Argentière, and Monday morning, the babysitting-swap climb up the Brévent on the Frison-Roche.

Perhaps I’ll be back in Colorado on schedule now.

Today, I’m cowering indoors again, but for a non-frustrating reason: I’m sunburned from spending yesterday learning alpine climbing techniques on Pointe Lachenal. The reflection off the Vallée Blanche sunburned the insides of my nostrils and the grooves of my ears, but no tears here. This is what I came to Chamonix to do.

This summer, I’m conducting a work/play experiment in the Alps. I’ve moved my home office from Colorado to Chamonix, a lovely but sometimes insanely touristy town at the foot of Mont Blanc. This post is the fifth in a series about temporarily living and working in a premiere trekking and climbing destination–and another country.

2 thoughts on “Workation France: Après-ick

  1. SO glad you’re feeling better and back to scampering up and down mountains! (Perhaps they should rename Valee Blanche – Valee Rouge?) Stay well and safe!

  2. I totally relate to that moment during your fit when Jeremy asked whether you wanted to go home and you said “No!” It’s a classic point of an adventure (I’ve written about mine in a memoir about our hike of the Pacific Crest Trail). Your piece in Colorado Daily about “why” we love these adventures is perfect counterpoint.

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