Hello again from Interlocken… Or Interloken, as I see it spelled here. Mike and I are, at the moment, sitting in front of a Migros shopping mall, on the ground, plugged into an outdoor electricity socket, leeching WiFi internet from someone’s router. Perhaps a strange site, but Interloken is truly a backpacker’s town.

It also happens to be the extreme sports center of the world. Everywhere you look there are advertisements for canyoning, bungy jumping, ice climbing, zorbing, hang-gliding…and Sky diving. Hayley, Mike and I had been fantasizing for a long time about going Sky Diving in Interloken, but all had some feeling that it was one of those things that just didn’t work out.

But yesterday, the first thing we did after checking into Balmer’s Hostel was go to the Extreme Sports desk and book a trip with Scenic!Air to jump 11,000 feet over Interloken through the Alps. At this point, I found that I was, surprisingly, more excited and less scared… We did the whole process pretty quickly, without really processing what we were getting ourselves into.

We had about 3 hours to hang around Interloken before we would go, but that went quickly and we soon found ourselves in the van which took us for a beautiful drive through the mountains of Interloken, and to a small airfield. In front of us there was only a runway, a hangar, and a big garage full of jumpsuits, harnesses and adrenaline junkies.

The guys and girls at Scenic Air were awesome; they were funny and kept the mood light. We’d already signed our life away at the hostel, so all we had to do was get in jumpsuits and take a 30 second crash-course on how to position our body while in the air. There were 3 simple steps… In the plane, we lean our head back and grab the harness, for the first few seconds we keep our hands holding the harness, we get a tap and then we get let our hands go and enjoy the ride… We were on the second plane, so I found myself racking my brain, going through the steps hundreds of times while we waited.

Even so, I was still less nervous than I’d thought I would be. Sure, my heart was pounding a bit more than usual, I was thinking about what the moment would be like. But I was really just so excited… Something about the incredible Swiss scenery made it a lot easier to deal with (Besides, if my sister can do it, there’s no way I should be worrying).

I met my tandem jumper, Hans, who was actually the guy who gave the 30 second instruction and seemed to be of high-rank in someway, so I was “In good hands with Hans.” Hayley, Mike & I, with our tandem jumpers and camera crew, started a short walk across the airfield to the blue plane idling on the runway. Hayley had said she wanted to go first, but as we started filing in, Hans said to me, “Last on, first off… Make sense?”

Suddenly I got a little nervous, but convinced myself I wanted to be the first one out, and we hopped in the plane. The space we were in was tiny. I always pictured a pretty large area where we could all comfortably sit and tap our feet nervously, but there was just enough room for the people we had, and our legs were all sort of interwined; I wondered how we’d all maneuver to get out.

Since I was the last one in, I was right at the sliding door of the airplane. The tarmac was 2 feet from me, with the door open as the plane started taxiing away. Hans allowed me about 45 seconds to nervously wonder if we’d be taking off and flying around with the door open the whole time, before closing it as we took off.

The scenery was spectacular. Interloken is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and we were flying through it in a tiny airplane, with an absurdly good view. Seeing the town from this perspective, I finally truly understood the name Inter-loken… It was a city clearly Inbetween (Inter) two incredibly blue-colored Lakes (Loken).

I recently received a very nice watch as a gift from my Aunt & Uncle that has an altimeter built in… For the first time, I really got a chance to use it. Paying a bit more for the camera man was also like paying a little more for a best-friend up there, and they kept us sane as I saw my watch slowly creep over 6,000 feet.

“How ya feeling?” Hans asked, in his awesome Swiss accent. “I’m doing ok… How are you doing?” I wondered, making sure the guy in charge of my life was in peak condition.

“Eh, I’m feeling a bit sick.” He joked.

We had about 15 minutes in the air to go sight seeing, but the higher I saw us getting the less I cared about the mountains. 0 to 6000 feet took about 10 minutes, so when I looked at my watch and suddenly saw us at over 10,000 feet, it hit me that this is it.

Hans started tightening me in, we attached our shoulders and torsos together, and he gave me the last few instructions. My watch hit 11,000, and seconds later Hans slid the door open.

The rush from the air through the door was incredible, we were going so fast. But there was no time to be scared, no time to back out. My camera man climbed over me and out the door, hanging on the wing support. Hans and I twisted our bodies onto the doorstep, and VOOSH, he pushed us out.

If words could describe how it felt, it wouldn’t be so expensive… But I guess its worth a shot. All the fears drop away, air is pushing your face and body so hard, but it feels great… The noise of falling 125 mph is loud, much louder than I thought. I was screaming, but I could hardly hear it.

As Hayley put it, “The Earth below looked like a toy train-set.” Jumping through the Alps was also probably the best possible way to do it (A sky-cameraman originally from Munich that we were talking to for awhile actually said Interloken is in his top 3 places to jump). The clouds and mountains were beautiful as we plummeted from above them to below them, but to be honest that wasn’t really what was on my mind at this point.

Hans spun me around, we played with the cameraman, screamed, made faces, and then I felt a tap, and VOOSH again, the parachute opened up and it was a completely new sensation.

Now it was just Hans and me, I felt completely safe with him. He loosened my harness a little so I could be more comfortable, and took off my goggles. We were still quite high, and the trip down lasts about 7 minutes, so we talked and had some fun.

The control they have over the chutes is amazing. He did some maneuvers through the air that gave me as intense a feeling as when we were falling. There’s something about seeing the parachute in front of me, when I feel like it should be above me, that really gets me screaming “WOOO. YEEEEAHH.”

Hanging there, Hans asked me what I thought, “Freaking incredible”, I replied (Though I wasn’t so clean-spoken at the time). “It’s the shit, eh?” He replied.

It was the shit.

We did a few sharp turns, and Hans asked me to put my head down so he could see, making sure not to drop us into the river below us… Not a bad idea, I thought. We swooped down towards the grass of the airfield at what seemed like far too fast a speed, but with a tug of the lines just as we were about to the ground, we slowed down, seemed to hang a bit in the air, and glided onto the grass.

We were all euphoric… We still are all euphoric. We’ve decided to just come back home now, because we cannot top that, ever. We hung around with the skydivers and watched the other groups go, enviously. The skydivers told us that once you’re licensed and have your gear, it costs about $25 a jump, so Hayley, Mike & I made a pact to do it and go skydiving around the world (kind of like a pact we made to go backpacking through Europe?).

Since, I’ve relived the experience in my mind many times, and they played clips from mine and Mike’s jump in the Metrobar, at Balmer’s, where we hung out at night after enjoying a cheap fondue dinner.

Interloken is incredible. We will definitely be back here sometime in our lives, hopefully with loads of cash to spend on every extreme sport possible.

Pictures and video are on the way, but the only thing Interloken is missing is good internet, so that may have to wait until we leave.

-An elated Nicky

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Comments

Fady on 13 July, 2007 at 9:23 am #

Nicky, that is absolutely FANTASTIC, not just the experience( I am so envious,) but also the way you described it. Magnifique! Keep it up! xox


lina and sami on 13 July, 2007 at 2:28 pm #

We love Switzerland and enjoyed reading about Interlocken and your skydiving, what an incredible experience! Are you going to go to Zermatt, that is the most incredible place in Switzerland. You journal is amazing, we are enjoying reading it. Good luck with the rest of the trip. Sami and Lina


tass on 13 July, 2007 at 7:10 pm #

“(Besides, if my sister can do it, there‚Äôs no way I should be worrying).”

What’s THAT supposed to mean?! I jumped from 13,500 feet, so there!!

Can I get in on the pact to get licensed and go skydiving around the world with you guys? I’d LOVE it!


Ma on 13 July, 2007 at 8:52 pm #

I’m really glad you guys all had a great time sky diving. I gotta tell Maurice and Feriale to read this post because of how you used the watch they gave you!!!!! Tassie was a little jealous and also excited to hear you went skydiving. She also said you’re a really good writer. And I’ve been going through your photos, and I’m VERY impressed with them. I really think you could become a professional photographer if you wanted to. You’re seeing all kinds of patterns and unusual visual relationships in the daily life environment around you that most people don’t see. It would be fun to go over them w/ you when you come back. The ones in Lille of the little clouds in the blue sky w/ buildings in front are terrific. Another favorite of mine is the globe-shaped thingee with a metal arch above it (do you know which one I mean? I forget where it was). And the one with the strange brown mask against buildings curving away - you have a terrific sense of design. And I’m not just biased cause I’m your mother and I love you!
PS. Say hi to the Furka Pass from me while you’re in Switzerland!


ryplane on 13 July, 2007 at 9:56 pm #

im jealous. can we go skydiving sometime?
i could fly up if you want to skydive over the house someday, or we could both go and ghostride the plane into shirley ann jacksons house


Ma on 14 July, 2007 at 4:40 pm #

Nicky, do you have a copy of the video that was taken during your sky diving? I hope we can see it when you get home.

I wonder where you are right now….


Sandra on 1 October, 2008 at 7:38 am #

Hi! Just found your site on goolge. Last Saturday I also went skydiving at the same place and I also had the same tandem master like you. And also felt really save with him.:-)
I’m so excited for my video and pictues, should get them today. :-)

Cheers,

Sandra


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