Aleksandra Bzdzikot




Trapped in Zermatt. How Swiss avalanche danger unleashed my potential

Can you imagine being stuck at a mountain village high in the Alps with no information when you will come back home?


Last week thousands of tourists staying in Swiss ski resort in Zermatt (me included) were trapped because of heavy snowfall and exceptional risk of avalanches. 

I was there on short winter holidays with my friend. Our stay was so wonderful! So much snow, great views, skiing, hiking and generally enjoying ourselves.

We were supposed to leave by train on Sunday, but we learned that the village was completely cut off. There was no possiblity to come in or come out. By any means - bus or train.


Nobody knew for how long such a situation would stay on.

What would you do if you were there, knowing you cannot return home, go to work or take an important flight?

Would you complain, go out of your senses or be fed up?





I guess we cannot 100% predict how we would behave in such circumstances, but I would like to share with you my incredible story. The story of what my stay in Zermatt has given me and the potential it has unleashed regarding my attitude to certain things. 





Our first day of being trapped was Monday 22nd January. It was snowing heavily and there were literally tons of snow everywhere, which you can see on the above picture. Our families were worried about us, especially if you consider that the avalanche alert was at the highest level (5) and it was all over the news everywhere.

I must say I also got a bit worried. But what you can do when you know you cannot do anything about it? 

This was the case of  'Force Majeure' as lawyers would call it. 


When I realized that by worrying I can change nothing, I decided to act in a totally opposite way. 

Namely: Why don't I create something positive out of this experience?


When I couldn't leave the hotel because of the avalanche danger, instead of complaining or reading a book I decided to make a painting. Yes, I'd like to pre-empt your question on how come I had a canvas and materials to paint?






Whenever I'm on travel I carry with me a small set of painting materials and a canvas or a piece of paper. I had many photos of Matterhorn taken on this trip and I decided to make a small painting of it.


All around was silent. Tourists were staying at the hotels, the window blinds were shut down to protect us in an event of an avalanche coming down. Overwhelming silence. The only noise I could hear were the helicopters shooting down the avalanches with explosives. 


I must say it was the first time I was painting in bed! I usually have a big desk to do it, but my hotel room didn't have it. Anyway, the canvas was small, so I could arrange something to hold it for me. 


There was also the time where there was no electricity for some hours. Just before I wanted to make myself hot tea in my thermos.

You cannot imagine how much I appreciated the hot tea when they turned the electricity on again. This made me think that sometimes the simplest moments escape our everyday attention




But the best was yet to come.

We heard the news that there would be a possibility to be airlifted by a helicopter. As soon as we came to the Bahnhofplatz we discovered that the tourist information office, where they were supposed to sell the tickets for a heli, was flooded by thousands of people queuing to get the ticket!

I thought it would be an unforgettable experience to take a flight by a helicoper. In fact, it was on my dream list! 


So we queued. On Monday - 5 hours in a line. With no ticket bought because of the amount of people. There were more than 700 people in the line that stretched on the main street of Zermatt!

Next day, Tuesday, we stood in the line again from early morning.  Another 4 hours. And we got the ticket. The number of people interested in taking the flight was exceeding the capacity of the three helicopters, which were in operation. 

Nonetheless, we managed to fly out of Zermatt on Wednesday morning and not only did one of my dreams come true, but also I had a chance to feel like in James Bond movies :-)


My insights from being trapped in Zermatt:

  • Worrying does not help.  Organize your time to spend it in a more positive and creative way. Go for a walk, make a painting, talk to your friend. 
  • Passion can be pursued in all circumstances. Even in the face of possible avalanche fall. 
  • Patience and persistence pays off. Thanks to queuing for long hours I took a flight by helicopter and have unforgettable memories. 


Life is too short to be overwhelmed by fears and worries. 

Sometimes you need stamina and patience, because thanks to them you can realize your biggest dreams.


I hope you found this article inspiring. 

If yes, please share it among your friends. 


See you soon!





10.07.2018 16:16:17

Hello Alexandra, Zermatt seems like a great place to visit. I'll put it on my list. Btw, you make great photos ;) Best regards, Noel

16.04.2018 08:09:49

Beautiful painting of the Matterhorn

28.03.2018 11:24:05

Incredible story. My friends were also trapped in Zermatt. So inspiring! Cheers, Adela from Finland

01.02.2018 19:37:07

Hello Aleksandra Lovely story beautifully told. Look forward to meeting you soon. James

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