Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Winter 2001-2002

The winter spent mostly looking for big holes



Wrestling with the Underworld in the Jura, January 2002

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

For example! Dr Pirri taking a luckily brief trip into a well-hidden hole in the forest of Grande Rolat, January 2002. Simple cautions, like "Watch Your Step", have no meaning for Dr Pirri.

Warming up for more plunges into the forest floor

Predictably undeterred, Prof Pirri returns to check another monster hole as if lessons were not for learning. But Dr Pirri's capacity for falling into holes is virtually inexhaustible.

Not all holes in the Jura are as obvious as this one. In some places, fields and fields of open holes and cracks in the limestone forest floor can provide hours of targeted winter entertainment when the lads venture into the area on a warm and sunny afternoon in January 2002.

Right, it's that kind of January, a Republican January you might say. Nine of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1990, when the Republicans legislated a ban on research on alternatives to wholesale dependence upon the fossil fuels which frequently make a select few of us extremely rich. Not me, of course, and not you, but . . . .

Dr Pirri, leading the expedition whilst recounting amusing anecdotes from his youth, almost disappears into a shallow crack or chasm in the forest floor. Not far from a humongous hole in the forest floor (left).

Whilst Dr Pirri labors to extract himself from the forest floor, his colleague(s) dart about in all unhelpful directions seeking still funnier camera angles.

Delighting in Mr Pirri's predicament, his colleague(s) blow off the better part of a roll of film hoping to chronicle just the right moment when physics and irony meet, and Dr Pirri disappears straight down, leaving behind only a ski pole and the aroma of aftershave.

Mere moments later, having charged Dr Pirri with negligence and taken over the lead, Mr Peck of Bassins, Switzerland, wanders into a similar fate and lodges his snowshoe into a narrow crevice . . .

. . . which evidently likes his snowshoe a lot and schemes to retain it indefinitely.

Orphan snowshoe -- if we disengage it from our feet, it will descend quickly out of reach, into the bowels of the earth as it were, and we'll only have one left (snowshoe, that is, not bowel. Well, that too.). So we keep on tugging at it, as afternoon drags on into evening and our mozzarella sandwiches begin to dry out in our backpacks.

So, with a shall-we-call-it Herculean effort we yank! the reluctant plastic out of the earth, at the cost of about 80 grams of knee cartilege, and regain our freedom, something devoutly to be wished for a lot of people around the world in these fallen times.

[Worse than just cartilege: the following week the whole snowshoe fell apart three hours out from the Col de la Givrine. Shouldn't have Yanked it so hard - diplomacy might have worked better.]

But freedom is not always the same thing as standing upright, and -- as so often is the case -- the standing upright part of it takes up another handsome length of time. Throughout which, former President Pirri was making himself sick with laughter at the contemplation of our plight.

The last laugh, as Mr Pirri dives in again moments later. (The penultimate laugh, actually, because shortly after this one, we went in again, too.)

BUT . . . once out of the blimey limestones and heading back at the end of the day, we remember why we've come here in the first place. Sunset, 26 January 2002, on the far side of the Col du Marchairuz.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 25 January 2002, revised 30 July 2008, 11 January 2014.


Recent Events