Ben Patrick has been managing Altitude ski school in Grindelwald & Wengen for 10 years and after spending six summers in the French speaking part of Switzerland running children’s summer camps he decided to settle in Grindelwald all year round. Ben is part of the permanent Hightide team. He has been guiding on the lake for the past two summers and sometimes he visits the waters during the winter too. Other days you’ll find him on the slopes or from his newest affection – cross-country skiing. You should definitely jump into one of Bens tours if you get a chance – you can’t look for a kinder and more patient guide plus he is also quite known for his hilarious British humour and water gun surprises.
How did you end up to Switzerland in the first place and how long have you been here? What makes you stay here?
I came here originally in 2005 to work as a ski instructor in Gstaad. I’ve been here ever since then, just in the Winters at first but quite a few Summers now as well.
It’s just a great place to be. There aren’t many places that would allow me to live and work year-round in such a stunning location doing two of my favourite sports
Tell us about your relationship to paddle sports?
I started off by going paddling with Dave on Lake Brienz a few times in November and December 2011(it was a long time before I paddled in warmer temperatures :-D), before he started Hightide, and it just went from there really. I’m now really enjoying the challenge of improving my skills and gaining more qualifications.
Why and how you found yourself working at Hightide?
It was always something that I was keen to do and it worked out that I could leave my previous Summer job in June of last year and luckily around the same time an opportunity arose to start here.
What is your favourite story on your tours?
The reason why there are lots of apples in the lake. Come on a tour and ask me for the answer 😉
How does working as a kayak guide and ski instructor go together?
It works really well for me as the ski season and the Summer kayak season just flow into each other, so it allows me to work full time in a place that I love doing two amazing jobs
What is best in working as a kayak guide?
I love being outside and out on the water. I also really enjoy meeting new people, having the opportunity to show them the incredible Lake Brienz, and seeing the enjoyment they have out on the water.
What do you think you would be doing if you didn’t move to Switzerland?
It’s hard to say, but I would have probably gone to University and be stuck in a job I didn’t enjoy anywhere near as much, waiting on my free time to go skiing and kayaking in Switzerland!
How is life in Grindelwald? Do you have some top tips for visitors?
Grindelwald is a fantastic place, a really nice old fashioned alpine village with some of the most impressive mountains in the alps towering over the top of it. It’s a really busy bustling destination year round with loads to do and see.
In Winter I would of course recommend coming for a ski lesson with me at Altitude Ski & Snowboard School, as well as trying out one of the sledging trails. A personal favourite is the night sledging from Bussalp after a fondue in the restaurant up there.
In Summer, there are some amazing hikes; I would definitely recommend hiking up to the Baregg Hutte or taking the gondola to First and walking to Bachalpsee before taking part in all of the activities on the way back down the mountain to Grindelwald, followed off by a beer on the terrace of the Avocado bar.
Definitely try out Onkel Tom’s Hutte for a pizza as well
Discipline: Sea Kayaking
Current Boats/Boards: P&H Scorpio and Delphin, North Shore Atlantic and Aspect
Favourite paddling places: Lake Brienz / Liguria
Other hobbies: Skiing, hiking, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding
Favourite Food: Pizza
Favourite Drink: A cold beer or a Gin & Tonic. I also enjoy the odd Whisky
Favourite Music: Rock/Pop – current favourites are the Lumineers, Kodaline, Oasis, Cotton Eye Joe ;-D etc.
Ultimate world destination to Paddle: Iceland and/or somewhere I can see whales whilst kayaking