"It's all white!" I shout and right away slap my hand over my mouth. I'm in Switzerland, on my balcony in the mountains, at the foot of the Matterhorn and everyone sleeping it’s so early .
Looking out of my bedroom window, I get the princess’s view of the mountain range soaring above all the brown roofs.
I’m sorry, this is so childish, but when you’ve grown up in Montevideo, Uruguay then moved to Florida, USA and winter sports are not your thing, this first experience is mesmerizing.
As fast as possible after a delicious breakfast, we’re sitting in the little train on up to the top of the mountain.
It’s climbing from the moment we leave Zermatt at 1620 feet. No! Wait a minute, it’s Europe, they’re metric aren’t they? 1620 metres!
Pop, pop, pop go my ears.
Up, up, up goes the train.
Pound, pound, pound goes my head.
But I don’t care.
No one on the train is as excited. The older couple across the aisle is all coochie-coochie (I think they’d rather be in bed they're so hands-on), the free-lance photographer, with all the kit tossed on the floor, is nonchalant.
“Findelbach,” says Jackie pointing at the little map, “this is where we’ll walk to on the way down.”
I’m looking at the altitude 2000 feet, No! 2000 meters, and my stomach lurches, “Great!” I grin. I don’t care, I’m going to do it all no matter how ugly I feel. When will I ever get a chance like this again, eh?
Pop, pop, deaf.
Pound, pound, head.
Up, up, the train.
Riffellalp, Riffelboden, Riffelberg, 2582.
Will I Riffle-barf when I get there?
“Look!” I’m shouting way too loud, “Snow everywhere!” Jackie laughs. To the veteran winter-vacationer this is as common as sun and sand is to me. Everything’s laced in white. Magnificent pristine outlines on the dark branches and pine spindles. Stalactites dripping off railings.
Snap, snap, snap I’m shooting pictures and the freelance dude raises an eyebrow (in despair?) I don’t give a damn.
Then the final pull to the top.
GORNERGRAT. 3089. We leap out of the warm train and I turn into an icicle. A chunky icicle.
“Look! It’s snowing for real!” I shout, but my teeth are clenched in one huge chatter and I’m sounding more like the Tin Man when Dorothy discovered him in the forest.
“Hang on, are you alright Noon?” Jackie grabs my arm as I lose my balance.
Dizzy and breathless.
Dizzy in Denver was nothing compared to this, but I don’t want to miss a thing. I don’t want to miss a thing.
“The café is at the top, can you make it?”
It seems like miles away. But I’m determined and Jackie’s already pulling me up. I don’t want to miss a thing.
Pop, puff, pound-pound.
I’m so giddy I feel like I’m floating and crashing at the same time.
I’m giddy writing about it.
But I did it. We got to the top. 3100. Meters.
When I glance at the news the next day, they say it had been minus 10 degrees up at Gornergrat.
Hah! I didn’t miss a thing.