I was up until 12:30 AM Friday night trying to figure it out.
It would have to be Sunday. The homeowners were leaving for their vacation on Saturday, and the rest of the week Erin had to work. The next weekend we would be packing up and flying out to France. So Sunday it was.
There was a train leaving at 5:30 Sunday morning from Horgen, where we're house-sitting on Lake Zurich in Switzerland. I could sleep a bit on the train and be in Zermatt by 9:30 AM.
I could take public transit within the town to get to the rental shop. I would need to rent skis, poles, boots, snow pants, and a helmet. I would have to scare up some gloves and goggles, maybe from the lost and found at a base lodge.
Then I would get my pass and work my way up the series of trams and lifts, passing above the tree line to the highest point in Europe accessible by tram, 12,750 feet above sea level. The mountains at that elevation have a perennial glacial snow cover, allowing for year-round skiing.
I would stop at the top to acclimatize to the elevation and take in the panoramic vista of the Swiss-Italian Alps surrounding me. Just a few kilometers along the ridge line from where I stood I would face the otherworldly triangular peak from which the ski area takes its name:
The train would be $260 round-trip (I would take another four hour train ride home that night). The rental equipment would total $90, and the ski ticket would be $90. Throw in some food and the total would be about $450.
$450 to ski Matterhorn (it's actually called Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, part of the interconnected Zermatt ski resort). It would never be this cheap or convenient again in my lifetime.
Still, $450 means a lot more now than it did six weeks ago when I was working. $450 would cover twelve days of the apartment we want to rent in Lisbon in November, or our flights into and out of Brussels after Lisbon, which is what I was supposed to be researching Friday night instead of Matterhorn. It could make the difference between us traveling to one more destination this year or not, or renting a better apartment somewhere.
I would have to sell it to Erin. Not just because of the money, but because she would have to take the kids to the zoo or something without me for the whole day.
Luckily, I had a card to play. My birthday was the next weekend, so this could be my birthday present! It could be my next five birthday presents, and Christmas too, for all I cared.
I could make it happen. In less than 36 hours, I could be pointing my ski tips down the fall line twelve thousand feet above the world at Matterhorn.
At 12:30 AM the laptop died. The charger was upstairs in the bedroom where Erin and the kids were sleeping. I packed it up and went upstairs.
I tried to find the snow conditions on my phone while I brushed my teeth. While year-round skiing is possible, October can be the worst conditions since the base from the previous winter is at it's lowest, unless it has gotten some early winter storms.
I couldn't find a detailed snow report, but I decided to call the rental shop in the morning to ask about the conditions.
It didn't really matter. The point was just to do it, to be there, to ski the Alps, to witness Matterhorn.
I did find the weather. It would be 25 degrees on Sunday with a little snow in the morning. Absolutely perfect.
I crept into the bedroom. Saturday night Erin and I would move into the master bedroom after the homeowners left, but tonight we were all in one room together.
Vera was in her travel tent at the foot of the king-size bed, Erin slept on her side of the bed, and Oliver was sprawled across the middle, crowding my side of the bed. I squeezed onto the edge of the mattress, lifting Oliver's limp arm out of the way.
I watched him take a few breaths as he slept. I gently wrapped my arm over him and pressed my face against his hair.
Matterhorn will always be there. This year is going to go by so fast.
It's supposed to be 70 degrees in Zurich on Sunday. It should be a perfect day for the zoo.