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Going Alpine

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

In a move that indicates both the kindness of their hearts and the questionable nature of their judgement, my good friend Dan and his lovely wife Marta asked me to be the Godfather to their first son Max. While this can be a somewhat ceremonial role in a lot of families, we all realized early on that it would be a lot more fun if we took it a bit more seriously. This has resulted in some fantastic times together over the years that likely would not have happened if I didn’t have an official excuse to become a more integral part of their family.

16 years in, we really do feel like family when we’re all together. All 3 of their kids refer to me at “Kum Dave” (Marta is from Split and “Kum” is Croatian for Godfather – or at least that what she told me. It may very well mean “idiot” & they’re all having a good laugh at my expense.) And I love each of them for the wonderful people they’re growing up to be.

This week we’re getting together in Zermatt to spend some time on the mountain. Dan, Marta, and the kids live just outside of Geneva, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. Fortunately we have been able to get together for some pretty amazing adventures. Over the last few years we’ve alternated between sailing and skiing excursions which has been an absolute blast.

As you can imagine, living on Kauai has not enhanced my snowsport skills. I switched from skis to a snowboard 20+ years ago, but have never been on the mountain consistently enough to advance much past a pretty average level of skill. I have a blast carving down the mountain, and I think I’m a lot better than I really am, but in all honesty I’m pretty lucky to have come out of the week without any major injuries.

Trying to keep up with a Swiss family of athletes high in their home territory of the Alps is a challenge to say the least. Fortunately this crew is as patient and kind as they are skilled, and they stop and pose for Marta’s photos just often enough to allow me to catch up and feel like I kinda know what I’m doing.

If you’re used to skiing or snowboarding in the States, I can’t recommend the Alps enough – especially for the skiers out there. The slopes are all above the treeline, so it’s wiiiiiide open everywhere. The views are amazing. In Zermatt the Matterhorn is omnipresent – the magnificent spire looming over everything. And the infrastructure is wonderful. Lines move quickly as gondolas of various sizes whisk riders all over the mountain. A steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate is never far off. We even skied over the ridge and into Italy for lunch on a couple of days.

You don’t even have to ski every day to enjoy the beautiful playground of these mountains. Paragliding, snowshoeing, tubing, hiking, and some kind of death-defying snow luge thing are all right outside your door. And of course, you can always sit in a café with a glass of wine and admire the Matterhorn and do some people-watching.

As our week in the mountains is drawing to a close, I actually still need to figure out where I’m off to next. I have an unexpected open week before I meet James in Cairo. Anybody got a suggestion?


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