| by Justine Stewart
This past weekend, I was one of eight lucky people to be invited on Mountain Action Holidays’ launch in the worlds' most famous mountain town, Chamonix Mont Blanc. Over the course of three-days, my teammates and I climbed cliff faces, jumped off waterfalls, tumbled down rapids and flew through the sky (to name a few things).
Thursday night everyone met at the chalet unsure of the adventures that lay before us. Some of us friends, some of us strangers, one never knows how these things will turn out but I can firmly say that each of us walked away from the weekend feeling like (a very adventurous) family. Friday morning began with a via ferrata just outside Chamonix in a small village called Passy. A via ferrata (or ‘iron path’) is a protected climbing route made up of steel cable rails, metal steps, suspension bridges and ladders which are all bolted into the side of the mountain. They are great as they allow non-expert climbers to experience the thrill of high altitudes in an incredibly safe way. Our fantastic guides, Ulius and Francois helped us face our fear of heights and expertly manoeuvre our way around the cliff face. After a few minutes of Ulius’ singing and repetition of his mantra “walk like an Egyptian” even the most scared of the group were wearing ear-to-ear grins and from that moment on our friendships were set in stone.
Following the via Ferrata it was time for a water adventure and we headed to the Arve river (which flows all the way to Geneva) for some hydrospeeding. Pulling on the thickest wetsuits known to man and chuckling at our teammates struggles with the form-fitting neoprene, we had a lesson in how to manoeuvre our hydrospeed before jumping into the river. It was epic! Some cruisy sections of the river allowed us to enjoy the scenery (or in the case of some race down the river or start hydrospeed battles) and the speedy sections of rapids provided moments of adrenalin and excitement.
On Saturday morning, we made our way to the small village of Barberine just outside the Chamonix valley to try our hand at canyoning. Not for the faint of heart but definitely something everyone should try, we abseiled down waterfalls, flew down zip lines, traversed across rivers and jumped off cliffs all in the name of adventure. Adrenalin levels were high as we cheered our teammates through each obstacle and the friendships that were formed just a day earlier had definitely taken on a family status by the time we made it back to the car. After a delicious packed lunch (courtesy of our delightful chef Paul) in the picturesque Col des Montets, our group split up for the biking activities. Depending on how hard-core you are feeling, you could choose between downhill biking at Le Tour or take a more leisurely e-bike tour around Chamonix.
Having had two action-packed days, Sunday was a bit more leisurely. Each of us started the day off with a tandem parapente from the Brevent ski area. Although jumping off the side of a mountain and flying through the sky might sound like a high-octane activity, it is actually a beautifully relaxing way to take in the sights of Chamonix from a different perspective.
After a few hours soaking up the sun in the hot tub at our chalet, we all made our way to our final activity, white water rafting. This happened to be my favourite of the whole weekend. Separated into two boats, our teams paddled down the river Arve, battling rapids, jumping in the river and giggling like school children as we sped through the town. The High Wet Weekend with Mountain Action Holidays has been one of the greatest holidays I have had the opportunity to experience. The chalet was beautiful, the food delicious, the drivers and chefs an absolute pleasure to spend time, the activities incredibly fun and the friendships I made in four short days will stay with me for life. I would absolutely recommend this holiday to anyone looking for a fun, adventurous mountain holiday and can’t wait to go on my next one.