So, summer is almost over, the temperature has plummeted, and we’re so close to seeing a return to the peace and quiet of inter season. Just as soon, that is, as the last stragglers have finished the 171km slogathon that is UTMB. Yes, this week has seen the arrival of long distance runners and masochists everywhere. As we speak, some poor sucker has probably just been airlifted off a small patch of muddy path. The sun has decided it doesn’t wish to put its hat on for tonights finale, and the whole town looks as ominous as it ever has.
Now that the heat has dropped, we’re seeing less thunderstorms and more hours of light rain, which is familiar for those of us who immigrated from damper climates. It’s not really ideal for ongoing outdoor sports, of course, but who needs those when you have plenty of sitting inside doing things that aren’t healthy to do instead. I mean, climbing and hiking are all well and good, but have you tried Netflix lately?
Since this has been my first summer in the mountains, I learned a few important lessons over the last few months.
- You need a bike way more in summer than winter. Seriously, I need to get me one of those, because travelling on foot is long and everyone else has wheels. Also, thieves are everywhere, and they will steal anything left unlocked.
- Weather in the mountains is confusing, and you should take a waterproof and a jumper with you everywhere during the entire of August. August is more confusing than all other months. Even so, thunderstorms come suddenly, and blue sky in the morning is no guarantee you’re not going to be walking home under a black cloud. This goes double at the top of the mountain.
- Buy an annual ski pass if you intend to be somewhere year round. It’s just practical. Also, lifts are way more expensive when you don’t pay to use them for the entire year in one lump sum during November.
- Mountaineering harnesses can be used for climbing, but they probably shouldn’t be, swimming in lakes is great but sort of smelly, and trying to burn the candle at both ends is no more effective in summer than it is in winter.
- Locals get infinitely more bitter when the temperature is around 30 degrees, they’ve been sweating for hours, and their town has been taken over by people who walk very slowly, stop at random, and ask them stupid questions. Please excuse angry expressions and snarky responses.
So, congratulations to whoever it was that won the UTMB, it’s an achievement I genuinely cannot comprehend. I hope every one of our visitors has enjoyed their summer, I know I have. Also, the sooner you all go home, the sooner I can get back to sitting in bars, surrounded by the people I see on a daily basis, waiting for the snow to arrive.