Leukerbad is one of the most important thermal baths and health areas in Switzerland and is deep in the mountains at about 1,450m.
Our friends had told us that whatever we do, we must do the Gemmi Walk. They said that when we see the wall, we will think that there cannot possibly be a walk going up to the top. They were right. This morning, armed with a map and instructions, we headed out and saw the wall directly in front of us in its full glory.
Surely there cannot possibly be a track going up to the top? In the middle of the photo you can see a gap in the wall. Along that almost vertical ridge, and leading into the gap, is a track that tightly zig-zags right up to the top. The top is at about 2,400m a height gain of 1,000m from the village.
However he gave me a fright when he started to feel dizzy and had to stop a few times. Given his fall and split head due to dizzy spell just before Jochen and I left for Switzerland, this looked serious to me. The height difference of 1,000m in a two-hour walk, dizzy spells, high blood pressure and, he tells me,he had forgotten to take his blood pressure pill that morning - this did not add up to a happy walk.
This was a steep climb on a super track that did not allow for any fear of heights whatsoever. As I said, the track zig-zagged tightly up the ridge with very short sections before the next turn up.
What was really great was that Jochen pulled strongly and steadily all the way up. On occasion I had to stop to catch my breath and he would turn to look at me in amazement. I could not have had better confirmation that the fitness program has worked. We are both super fit and I feel confident that Jochen will have the stamina to do the searches in a couple of days without keeling over.
We took the cable car down as it is not a good idea to walk down such a long and steep track. I did not want another shin splint, Jochen does not need the strain on his joints and Peter did not need that extra strain either.
We settled Jochen back into the hotel room and then Peter and I set off to sample the famous Leukerbad thermal baths. This turned out to be a great way to finish off a super day. Whilst in the water, I realised that we had been so busy with focusing on reaching the Gemmi Pass and then soaking up the warm water that my mind is so far absolutely clear of any stress or nerves in respect to the test. I feel calm, relaxed and fit. There is nothing else I can do. Jochen is fit, he is slim, he is well-trained, he knows his work and the rest is up to me. I need to stay calm, focused and get into the zone. The rest will fall into place.
TOMORROW WE HEAD TO GENEVA
Tomorrow we head to Geneva, a 214km drive. None of the candidates are allowed to be at Les Epeisses before 6.00pm as the assessors are spending the day preparing the holes for the figurant (victims).
There will be a 6.30am start Friday morning, starting with a vet check for all the dogs. Then there will be the first aid test for humans and dogs followed by a theory session. The search work starts at 7.30am. Jochen and I are on at 1.30pm and our start time during the night is at 1.30am.
There will be four searches on Friday, three searches during the night and another four searches on Saturday.
PETER - THANK YOU
It is really great to have Peter here as moral support. He and I started this SAR journey together in 1994 and it is fitting that we be here together for this very important milestone. Without Peter, Jochen and I would not be here at the pointy end. I cannot thank him enough.
Two other persons who deserve special mention is - Alex Withers, our Adelaide member, fire fighter and SA-USAR Task Force member. His support and help has been invaluable since he joined us in 1995.
The other person is Christine Brady who besides Peter and myself is our only other remaining foundation member. She has been with us through thick and thin, always quietly supportive, sensible and calm. Thank you Christine.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR GOOD WISHES. JOCHEN AND I WILL DO OUR BEST.