The ascent

There is something doubly eerie ascending a mountain in a lift made for 100 skiers with just seven people. No one really said anything and it was clear I was not the only one scared. Everyone was feeling apprehensive. The lift swayed in the gale as we rose higher up the mountain. We could see absolutely nothing.

At the halfway point we had to get out to swap lifts. We could still barely see anything as the snow and wind forced our eyes closer together.

Lawrence Jones

I got a spare moment when Stephane was organising for the second lift to be switched on, and I strayed away from the pack for a moment to ring Gail on my mobile. I felt something was up, something didn't feel right and I actually told her "I feel strange, I wanted to ring to say good-bye and tell you that I love you just in case anything was to happen. This just feels like the last time I am going to speak to you."

As you can imagine, Gail pointed out it wasn't too late to back out, and told me to tell the lads to "stop being stupid, get to the bar until the weather clears and go and have a few vin chaud."

I got off the phone and told the guys what Gail had said, and they all burst out laughing thinking I was having a joke.

The idea of backing down was incomprehensible. I put the fears to the back of my mind, made a promise to myself to be careful and I took a minute to prepare myself mentally for the journey ahead. This was now very real.

Read on...