My stomach burst with nerves as I read the text over breakfast at Cordée des Alpes. It was Lucie from the hotel letting me know that the weather conditions were good and that the paragliding could go ahead at 11am that morning. The day before I was told it would be highly unlikely that I would get to paraglide because of bad weather and to be honest, the scaredy cat in me was pretty relieved. I was all prepared for a leisurely day on the slopes but with all of about 2 hours notice, I was about to can face my fears and go paragliding in Verbier.
Going paragliding in Verbier was something I had thought long and hard about before my trip. The thought of it terrified me to my inner core and I was so close to turning down the opportunity all together. But a part of me really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. It was a chance to challenge myself, and prove to myself that I wasn’t becoming over-cautious in my late 20’s. 18-year-old me would have done it in a heartbeat. “Screw it” I said to myself. Just go for it.
In hindsight the lack of notice on the day was a good thing, as it meant I didn’t have enough time to get myself worked up and nervous. It wasn’t until I found out I had to arrive in my skis that the reality of what I was about to do really hit me. Was I really going to let myself ski off-piste and into the sky? Apparently so…
We hopped on the Medran bubble lift to meet Gael and Claude, a father and son duo who run Fly Verbier, the top company for paragliding in Verbier. My first real pang of nerves arrived as I saw the yellow parachute lying limp and lifeless on the snow. It was just a thin tarpaulin-type material with strings attached to a harness. How on earth was that thing going to keep me alive? Would it definitely fill with air? The physics of what I was about to do blew my tiny mind.
Cool as a cucumber, Gael harnessed me up and explained that we would ski in tandem, me in front and him behind. We were strapped together. He explained that as soon as we start skiing, the parachute would fill with air and we would gradually lift off the ground (I nodded along nervously, but my brain was still in disbelief throughout the whole explanation). “So Jessica, we are ready. Now just point your skis straight down the slope and… we go”, Gael said to me in a wonderful Swiss accent.
This was it. There was no going back. I knew I had to put my life in his hands and enjoy the ride (if it all went wrong, it would a be a pretty epic way to leave this world). We quickly gained speed as we skied down the steep slope and within about 5 seconds I could feel the pull of the parachute behind us. It was actually working! The friction of the full parachute slowed down before smoothly lifting us off the snow. My heavy ski boots suddenly became weightless and we were flying. We were actually flying!
I screamed. I screamed a lot (you’ll see if you watch the video below). Then within seconds, my nerves disappeared and were replaced by an intense rush of adrenaline. I can’t remember feeling adrenaline like that ever before in my life. Suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore. I was in awe, I was speechless and generally amazed. The rest of the flight seemed surreal. I had no concept of high how we were or how fast we were going. Gael showed me how to steer the parachute and for a brief moment, I was even in the drivers seat.
We soared down the valley and even dipped down to touch the snow with our skis, before whizzing back up into the sky. It was the closest thing to flying I have ever felt, and probably ever will feel.
We landed in very deep snow at the bottom of the valley, close to a bubble lift. The landing was controlled and smooth – much easier than the take off. It felt good to have my feet back on solid ground. That feeling of adrenaline stayed with me for a good few hours after the flight, as well as feeling proud of myself for pushing myself to do it.
Paragliding in Verbier was an epic, once in a lifetime experience that will remain a vivid memory for the rest of my life. Watch the video below to get a closer look.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”
Thanks to Fly Verbier for this incredible experience. Visit flyverbier.ch to book your own paraglide in Verbier.
Did you enjoy my paragliding in Verbier story? Would you ever consider paragliding or have you done it before? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! Jess x