I’ve always loved being high above the ground. I always choose the window seat in a plane so that I can stare down at the clouds from high above. My sisters once bought me a flying lesson in college. I celebrated my 18th birthday by jumping out of a plane (and had a repeat performance 2 years ago in Australia). Ski lifts are great. So are rooftop bars and rollercoasters.
So what better way to celebrate life in the land of super tall mountains than by going to the top of one and jumping off!
Paragliding pilot extraordinaire, in charge of making sure that I made it down alive. He did a great job :)
I didn’t intend to paraglide on my mom’s 60th birthday, as she doesn’t exactly love when I leap from high things. But it was a gorgeous Saturday, and I found two willing (well, mostly willing) friends to accompany me, so off we went.
We met Urs and the other two pilots in Engelberg, and we traveled together up the cable car, then up a ski lift until we reached the top. They checked the wind and gave us our safety briefing.
And then we ran off the side of the mountain.
It was absolutely incredible. Urs steered us through the valley, nearly colliding with mountains and trees (just kidding, mom!) as we went. He pointed out the towns nearly a thousand meters below and the fog rolling in from Luzern. We flew over to say hi to Janelle, and then Urs handed over the reins and let me steer around for a bit.
The paragliding harness is a nice comfortable chair inviting you to sit back and relax. You glide gently down from the top of the mountain for anywhere from 5-45 minutes (ours was about 20 or so). We were able to control where we went, going backwards and forwards, turning left and right, just hanging out in the air, having a normal conversation with Janelle and her pilot (Liz was nowhere to be seen at this point!).
Then Urs took back the controls and threw us into a plummeting spiral.
After pulling out of our freefall, we spent a few more minutes flying around admiring the gorgeous backdrop of the Alps before landing safely in Urs’ backyard. Since Urs and I were the first to land, I was able to enjoy the graceful landings of the others :)
It was such a great time! If you are ever in Switzerland, I highly recommend giving Urs a call and taking the day to go jump off a mountain :-D
Kelly is an American teacher living in Switzerland and enjoying everything the country has to offer.