Facing my Fears on Furkapass

The first time I met up with Furkapass, it was a wet, slippery, terrifying experience.  But this is another story for another day.  You can read this story when you buy my book 🙂  {Just a Girl and a Bike will be available in a couple of months}.

Ever since that first day on Furkapass I was left wondering if I had exaggerated it in my mind.  Had I created a monster much more fierce than it actually was?  Did my fear of sliding off of the slippery road to plummet to my death create much more of a mountain than actually existed?  Did I create something in my mind that had haunted me ever since?

Furkapass is a famous mountain in Switzerland, near the tiny town of Andermatt.  It may be most known for its appearance in Goldfinger.  Yes, Goldfinger.  Of course Mr. Bond was nearly killed by an attractive young woman.  And of course he finds himself in a car chase along the steep, winding switchbacks along the side of a gaping cliff.  Take a few minutes, and watch this very entertaining clip.  You will see what I mean by steep and gaping cliff!

My second meeting with Furkapass validated all of my fears.  Husband in the passenger seat, I drove us up and over Furkaspass into Andermatt.  When we reached the top, I was looking down at the mountain that I had climbed many years before.  It was not raining.  It was a nice day.  I could see clearly the winding, steep road laid out before me.  There it was, the long, daunting stretch literally along the side of a gaping cliff with absolutely no barrier.  It really was that scary.  And the first time that I had been here, climbing this beast, it had poured rain.  Our descent was slippery.   All these years I had thought that maybe I had blown this out of proportion, over exaggerated, created something greater than it was.  In a flash all of these thoughts vanished from my mind forever.  This was a beast of a mountain.  I had been really exposed out there on the side of this monster, just me and my bike.

The entire drive down into Andermatt only further validated my previous fears.  I had met this mountain before, I had been afraid, and I had every reason to be!

We settled into this lovely little town, and made it home for a few days.  During one of these days, we faced Furkapass once again.  This time I knew what I was getting into.  I also knew that I had climbed enough mountains by now not to doubt that I would make it to the top.  When we started climbing, I looked up at the series of switchbacks before me, and I simply dug in.  It was tough.  I found a flow, and I sunk into the delicious feeling of my mind, body, and soul all becoming one.

After the switchbacks, the road really opens up.  That is when you can see that long, daunting stretch that I swear was going to be the death of me on my first attempt.  We were about half way up the entire ascent.  We could see a very dark, very threatening looking cloud looming at the top of the mountain.  I could feel nervousness and a little fear swirling around inside of me. Flash backs from my first encounter with this mountainous beast flashed through my head.  I looked up at the black cloud staring me down.

We both felt a little funny, so we had snacks, and contemplated our situation.  It became apparent that we didn’t want to turn back.  We weren’t sure if we were being crazy, but, we simply didn’t want to give up just yet.  We wanted to keep going, and just keep an eye on the cloud.  So we did.  I dug in again, and after the nutrition from the snack kicked in, I felt better.  We slowly made our way up the beast.  I took on the long, daunting stretch of road and concentrated on not thinking about the gaping cliff.  One pedal stroke at a time we just kept chipping away at this climb.  Before we knew it, it was apparent that we were going to make the summit despite the threatening black cloud.


At the top, we took our photos and had a private celebration.  Just two crazy cyclists at the top of a mountain, surrounded by snow.  It felt damn good that we had chosen to keep going.  We kept the celebration short as we wanted to get back down before the black cloud opened up.  Real celebration could wait until we were safely tucked away in Andermatt once again.

‘Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.’  – Theodore Roosevelt

Furkapass: 41.2 km, maximum gradient 17%, 956 m ascent







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