Caroline on Why she guides

In 1997, I had a nasty accident in the mountains. I fell 1,200 feet down a mountain and spent two months flat on my back in a hospital, staring at the ceiling and thinking that if only I’d had more knowledge of the mountains and how to recognize and manage hazards, I possibly wouldn’t be all broken. Although I’d enjoyed the mountains until then, a furious passion for them ensued from my fall. I knew then that I would become a guide.

Yet, becoming a guide – and a woman guide at that – isn’t an easy road. You have to want it, to live it, to have it so deeply ingrained in your blood that it becomes the essence of your life. Maybe for some it doesn’t have to be quite so extreme, but it did for me.

I didn’t know many people who could take me and teach me. So I decided to follow the motto: “If you don’t know it, teach it” and took my friend Floriane with me all over the mountains. I had no idea how to do things, and I often covered my lack of skills by blaming her for doing things wrong. She was a good sport, and with her I learned a lot through my mistakes and our successes. I climbed mountains like there was no tomorrow, going 10 to 20 days without a break, in all sorts of weather and conditions. I recorded my every climb in a diary, writing in the time it took me, with whom I had done the climb, how hard the climb was, and with ski touring, I kept track of every vertical foot I climbed each winter. It was a religion. I would drive cross-country to do a climb, not counting the time it took or money it cost. Nothing else mattered; it was as vital to me as eating and drinking. My parents were worried.

I filled out the guide course application with a shaking hand. It is scary to get close to your dreams. I wanted this so badly that I didn’t listen when I was told that I had to work on my steep skiing skills. From my accident in 1997, I experienced a great fear of falling down a steep slope. I just pushed on.

During that time, I experienced a very tragic loss and a turning point in my life. I didn’t know if I should pursue guiding. I was simultaneously doing my internship to become a lawyer and hated it. But I realized I had to pursue my passion. So instead of quitting the guide courses, I quit law, and this course became my reason to live.

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