Jumping Off A Mountain
Not so much frightening, more nerve-wracking as it involved facing up to, and overcoming one of my big fears.
I’ve never been scared of heights as such, but I have always had a fear of being off balance and on the edge of things. As a child, I hated jumping into swimming pools and didn’t even like slides as they involved pushing yourself off and entrusting yourself to gravity. So doing a tandem paraglide off the top of a mountain in Germany would not seem like the ideal way to spend part of a holiday. But in 2003 that’s exactly what I did.
I did it for love. On our trip to the mountains from Munich that day, the guide presented it to us as an option. I knew right away that Sally-Jayne would love to do it, as indeed she quickly confirmed. But I also knew she would not do it unless I did it too. So I signed up as well.
Each of us had an experienced pilot and after a safety briefing we ascended the mountain by cable car (the one that people got stuck in for 18 hours last week, after tandem paragliders crashed into the cable, incidentally). The basic concept is that you run off the edge of the mountain and then glide away on the parachute thing, before gliding around until gravity eventually wins and you return to earth.
I was absolutely terrified as I looked out at the place they were expecting me to jump off. Sally-Jayne went first, so in theory I could have wimped out, but something made me go through with it. Standing up there just before we went was awful, even more frightening than just looking down a few minutes earlier. But I summoned up the courage and we were soon airborne. From that point, it was fantastic (apart from the rather heavy landing).
You sit in a kind of harness seat thing while the pilot steers on the thermals, and you can take photos as you go. I have some superb shots taken from up there that day, a beautiful, sunny and clear summer’s day, especially of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, which we flew over. Am I glad I did it? Hell yes. Would I do it again? Hell, no. Well, probably not anyway.