Confined to Dream – Isolation in Chamonix, France

Confined to Dream, Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, armchair mountaineering during Covid Isolation in Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

Confined to Dream, Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, armchair mountaineering during Covid Isolation in Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

Hello Friends,

I’ve been in Chamonix, France since the beginning of March and strictly confined for a week now. Strict confinement means no excursions beyond the grocery store and the occasional neighborhood sport walk. No mountain activity is allowed: no skiing, no climbing, no trail running, no biking.

These are tough rules but ones I support to help protect the vulnerable and the front-line health care professionals. Those who can, work from home. Those who can’t, try to occupy themselves (and their families) with indoor projects, home exercise programs, yard work and the like. The financial impact is only beginning. Most of us have never experienced such a time of uncertainty.

As I sit here, underneath granite and glacier behemoths, having lost my entire spring season of ski guiding work and possibly that of the summer as well, my longing for the mountains, I am now not allowed to visit, remains. Yet I’m at peace.

While mountain guides aren’t used to being confined, we’re used to uncertainty.

Guiding includes a near constant stream of uncertainties: Is this itinerary appropriate? Is everyone healthy and prepared? Are the conditions as expected? Will the weather hold? When do we need to turn around? Do I have the right gear? What’s my margin for error? What if we have to bail? What if we get lost or get hurt?

In the valley, I have a garden. I have a comfortable little studio. And, most of all, I have beauty to behold. I don’t even have to lift my eyes to see my beloved peaks. Tiny flowers are blooming. The grass is a shade greener every day. The neighbors little cat comes to visit.

I built a slack line with an old rope and a block-and-tackle tensioning system.

I’m reading a mountain literature classic: Lionel Terray’s Conquistadors of the Useless. As I read, I stop and look up the route descriptions for all the incredible routes Terray climbed.

And I dream, endlessly inspired to go climbing again when the time comes. Until then, take good care of yourselves and those around you!

Karen

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