Paragliding at Interlaken

When in Interlaken, do as everybody else does… throw yourself off a cliff.

It’s actually not that intense, but leading up to it you don’t know what to expect. We agreed that paragliding was a “must do” in Switzerland, especially Interlaken, the mecca of extreme outdoor sports. Since Jaro has already gone sky diving and I’m not quite there yet, we found this to be a happy medium.

The day we arrived in Interlaken, weather was crummy and visibility was poor. No jumps that day. The next day was bright and sunny, so we called, got a morning jump at 10:45 and were pumped to go. Having struggled with jumping off rocks in Capri (seriously, I was such a wuss about 10 foot jumps), I surprised myself with how calm and ready to go I felt. So we arrived at the meeting point, all hopped in the van and started the drive up the mountain side to our jump site. As we rode up (there were 6 of us doing the jump), everything was explained and I felt good about it.

We arrived at the jump site (1350 meters high) and got into our gear:

Then, one pair at a time(everyone goes tandem, duh), start running down this hill you can see behind us and as soon as the hill drops off, they started floating away! It was really quite surreal to watch, it looked so easy. Jaro was in line before me so I watched as he ran, “jumped”, and glided away. I couldn’t wait for my turn!

I was second to last to jump. My pilot had a camera on a pole and we were getting excited and taking pictures:

So we countdown and start running. Suddenly, my pilot yells “Stop, STOP!” I was like, WTF is going on here. So we stop running before the parachute fully deploys. Turns out our parachute was completely tangled and it took a solid 15 minutes for him and the other pilot still there to fix it. WHY ME. Seriously. The whole time they were working on it, I thought that maybe I wasn’t meant for extreme sports. Of course, they kept saying, “we’ll get it right, we love our lives too, you know.” And it hit me that I was literally putting my life into their somewhat incompetent hands. But, rather than be a wimp and demand to be driven back down, I decided to trust them, wait, and soon enough we were ready to go. So let’s try this again.

Countdown, run, jump, and lift off. We were airborne! There is nothing extreme about it, guys. No stomach flips, no fear. It’s very peaceful up there as you float past mountain sides and over the town with beautiful views of the lakes and the Alps. At the end, I even felt brave enough to request “tricks” where the pilot swirls you around, swaying side to side, and then hurling you into a vortex of hell fun. THAT was the adrenaline rush/stomach flips/screaming at the top of my lungs part, but it’s not necessary unless you request it. Here are some pics Jaro took (with a P&S):

Here are some pics of me (that my pilot & Jaro took):

I survived. They should make shirts that say “I survived paragliding in Interlaken.” No apologies, however, for the initial scare that had me questioning the whole thing. I’m still annoyed by that. Yet another reason why I sort of hate Switzerland.

Ahead: Italia!