Up in The Alps
Let me start saying that I am totally exhausted and that The Swift Alps has been the most difficult and energy draining event I ever organized in my life, but the final balance is just amazing and I would like to share with you some of the stories and behind the scenes of this event.
Concept and Location
The concept has been created by many and many speakers and also mentors which were at the event. We started this project all toghether almost one and half year ago, opening a Google document and commenting, changing, adding and removing things to the concept. I proposed as first venue Laax, a very beautiful sky resort in the canton Graubünden, but the potential venue was supposed to be closed in the period that the event should take place.
After searching a little bit more, I found the venue in Crans-Montana. I have been in Crans-Montana many times in my life, for long holidays, but also for short and relaxing week-ends in the Alps. I visited the place in June and started to organize everything with Patrick, Luca and Dylan. Having already a lot of the potential mentors involved in the process, the invitation was a simple and straight process.
The mentors list was ready in less than a week, but then some problems arose with JP and Daniel, which both were unable to join for different reasons. I tried to find replacements, but the short notice and the fact that all the people I pinged were already busy with other events, made the whole process impossible; at this point I decided to limit the event to no more than 60 people in total, instead of the 80 I wanted to have. This decision I think played a major role in the success of the event.
Considering the special kind of event, I received around 15/20 emails, DMs, personal messages, etc… directly asking how to join The Swift Alps as mentor, but I always replied that there were no process and that I was in a need of people I blindly trust and that were able to operate with this special format. I wish I could run a “Call for Workgroup”, but I think this goes far beyond any realistic possibility. The concept is extremely exhausting and having troubles in a 8 hours workgroup, is not like having troubles for a 30-45 minutes presentation.
Before the Kick-Off
Wednesday 9th November was a crazy day. I was not expecting so much snow and that put everything in a sort of emergency state. Mentors were supposed to stay in a chalet on top of Montana, but it was basically impossible to reach the building and we had to book and emergency hotel for the night.
I was also supposed to use a rented Europcar VW Touran, but who gave me the vehicle told me that chains were absolutely unnecessary, thing that turned out to be totally false and I had to park and let the car parked one full day. Annoying.
T-shirts were supposed to arrive at home, but UPS changed something in the process and I got totally unprepared so I asked to get them at the venue as final attempt, result? I still don’t know where they are.
Kicking Off and Day 1
The first day of the event I was not nervous, everything was basically in an emergency state and panic was not an option or I would end blowing up the whole event. We started as planned, on time. During the workgroups, me and Patrick (which I will thank forever for the big effort in helping me out sorting things, alongside Luca who stayed always taking care of the situation in the venue) had to go get the chains down in Sierre because the company who provided the car can’t deliver them to us even if we agreed to have them delivered to us. At that point I had to rely on my driving skills and I managed to get the car off the snow and carefully drive it down to Sierre/Sion.
Finally collected the chains and we were able to to get back up in the Alps and do some shopping for the dinner later that day and prepare ourself for the drink night.
The drink night was absolutely cozy and warming, very small venue and 40+ people there enjoying the quite night with a lot of snow falling outside (est. 30cm in less than 6 hours that night). We managed to get back on track and speakers in the chalet!
Day 2, the World was just White
The second day started with more snow, the weather really wanted to make sure we were enjoying the Alps in the way they have to be enjoyed: white everywhere.
We managed to have all the mentors safely at the venue and we started with a little of delay because some attendees were having some problems in reaching the venue, but at the end we managed to start.
Ending the conference has been the most amazing experience related to an event I ever had. Can’t really say the type of emotions I faced, because a such kind of event, out of the ordinary, can’t really be explained, just lived.
The Curling and Top of the World
After being stressed with all the emergencies we faced, I finally managed to be really relaxed on Saturday and the outcome has been just amazing. The weather was clear and the view in the top of the mountains was breathtaking, this pic at 7:00 in the morning can explain everything:
After taking 2 mentors to the transportation ready to get back home, all the others had the amazing idea to go on top of the mountain where slopes were already open and some people were already there to ski, taking advantage of the fresh snow.
Here’s another picture which doesn’t require any comment:
and a group one:
After a nice walk and some fresh air at the top of the Alps, we went down to have some fair competition, curling was waiting for us. We took the introduction class and then we created 2 teams and started to play. At the end teams ended being Swiss vs Rest of the World, captains were me and Marin. Unfortunately, the Swiss team could not make it and lost both the games… but we has so much fun I will love to have curling again next year, this time better prepared.
The Swift Alps has been the most amazing event I attended/organized in my life, it’s going to be really hard to beat, it was featuring a brand new concept, in a remote and super beautiful location in the heart of the Alps. I couldn’t ask more.