Anne Leonard

Must be May

I saw in this morning’s news a famous Swiss mountain climber has died on Everest. That reminded me May is here and my birthday is nigh as it coincides with Everest climbing season. In fact, I was born a few days before Edmund Hillary reached the top of Mount Everest — so you can easily calculate how old I am.

Ueli Steck was best known for clocking the fastest ascent of the Eiger in the Bernese Alps. The year Mike died, my mother, niece, and I made a road trip across Switzerland and spent two nights in the shadow of the Eiger.

I cannot for the life of me find my photos of that trip; it was an extraordinarily sad time, even in the overwhelming beauty of Switzerland. So I’m including one of my photos of another well-known Swiss peak, the Matterhorn.

Mike and I spent a lot of time in the mountains, including the Swiss Alps, the Andes in Peru, and — as shown below — the Canadian Rockies.

Here’s a passage from For the Love of Mike about that 2009 trip to Switzerland:

“Does it hurt all the time?”

My niece’s question took me aback. It was the first week of October, and we were sitting on a bench under a full moon in Grindelwald, Switzerland, indulging in a late night outing. I’d been talking about Mike, a repetitive habit that I felt I could indulge in with her.

I took a deep drag on my cigarette, and looked at the silvery orb hovering over the Eiger. It was an excellent question, because the answer, “Yes,” perfectly described the way I felt, although I’d not thought of it that way up until then.

Moraine Lake in Alberta

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