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Hannah Grant

Winter Carrots

First of all, I have to point out that the article below has been written with the humour of my own and that it has not been my intention to ridicule anyone except myself. The characters featured in the text are not invented and the whole story is based on a real event that took and will take place.

It was exactly one year ago that I started my Erasmus expedition in Nantes. The Nanta Erasma summit was tackled successfully at the end of May 2016 – see my ascent article here. The beginning of this year rides on sort of a similar wave. But I’d say that the trip that awaits me will be a greater challenge in the sports point of view. With Klárka, a die-hard lover of Czech Vagus brand, skier and crazy girl in one person, we are preparing for the legendary March ski-mountaineering competition in Switzerland – Patrouille des Aiguilles Rouges 2017.

How it all began? 

Kind of innocently, as things usually tend to go. “Hi Klári, see here, Hannah invites applications for a grant to celebrate their 25th anniversary. They will provide a material support to selected projects, how about hatching up something?” I start a facebook conversation. Eagerly I read the answer that comes about a minute later: “It sounds good, do you have time tomorrow? I’d stop at the dorm and we will think out something. I go to France the day after tomorrow and am a little pressed for time but …” 

I met Klárka for the first time in winter 2013 in “St Nicholas waggon” (the traditional outdoor event organized on the occasion of the feast of St Nicholas celebrated in the living waggon owned by VŠTJ Ekonom where we spend Easter, St Nicholas Day, New Year’s Eve and nearly the Christmas Eve). Then we met many times at different competitions, orienteering races or on the slopes, always telling to each other that we should go for something together some day. All things come to him who waits. Now, after four years, hallelujah: Here we go!

Next day, as agreed, I shuffle my slippers to the reception room to let Klárka in and, in a minute, we occupy two chairs in the study room. Except that we are not going to study this time but to deal with much more important things. After a while of brainstorming, Klárka says: “Baru, what if we go to a ski mountaineering contest together?” My eyes light up and Klárka raises the wager: “We would start up from Zermatt for an acclimatization traverse to Arola, sleep there and go to the start in Arola next morning.” Voilà. I give all in. The plan has come into the world. How simple things sometimes are.

Problems are here to be resolved

We part grinning from ear to ear and I, delirious with joy, run up the stairs to pack for the trip before realizing that there is enough time yet until March and that perhaps there will be some more outfit I will still need to buy. We fill in a form within a week and send off the plan of our Girls’ Challenge in Wallis to Hannah. In the meantime, we try to enrol on the start list of the competition but its full. Oh-oh. “I’ll try to write to them if there are some more places, or we are doomed.” But as we are ingenious girls and as Klárka’s French is brilliant, we not only get an answer from Hannah, inviting us to an interview, but we also obtain VIP appearance money for the competition.

Hannah grant as an X-mas gift

The date of the meeting at the Hannah headquarters in Pilsen is changed twice, with the best variant finally being the Wednesday of 14th December. The morning after a ball. EPO ball. I get up, looking for my socks, jeans and balance, which I can’t find. Nothing doing, maybe I’ll find it later. No time to act the heroine. I join Klárka in her car. Our original plan that we would prepare for the interview during the drive goes to hell before we greet each other, and we spend 50 minutes of the hour of our drive discussing the moments from the yesterday’s ball. “Never mind, we will just tell them about our portfolio and will see.”

We had a lot of laugh, discussing our mutual acquaintances and how small the world is, and left the meeting being sure that we could also add this and that … Never mind. I grab the phone to call Vosák, who is invited to an interview just after us. “Look, there he goes,” Klárka gives me jostle, pointing her finger at a funny figure, obviously also trying to find his balance after the ball.

In Pilsen, after a couple of turns trying to find our way out of the town, we finally set off to Prague. “So long, Kláruš, and let me know after you hear something.” “Sure thing, bye bye Baruš.”

“Klári, got something?” “Nothing …” Two days later, the same situation: “Still nothing?” “Nothing. Keeping us in suspense, I suppose.” Then another three days, the same old story. Oh, dear. But suddenly, 22nd December morning after our outdoor X-mas party, bleary with sleep, I can see an envelope on the display of my mobile phone, meaning an e-mail with the long-desired subject: It’s there. I’m awake presently, hugging all my teddy bears in my bed and nearly giving a ceremonial dance. We’ve got it. “But now we must not make fools of ourselves and have to start training,” I realize and, doing as I think, I return to bed to have some more sleep.

So, even the year 2017 starts with a challenge. A hell of girls’ challenge with the cover name of Winter Carrots. Carrots in winter. Bára of Chropyně and Klárka of Prague go for it all in. No one knows how this adventure is going to end up. We spam the facebook with one picture after another. We train separately, Klárka in Italy at the moment, I at home in Czechia. But in February we plan a common ski mountaineering camp. Where? We’ll leave that as a surprise for some of you. Btw, could someone lend us a drone to make some nice shots?

B+K/ Winter Carrots