Thursday, 28 August 2008

Via Ferrata


Les Escaldilles - Llo

Probably the most physically demanding and un-nerving thing I've ever done (ditto Ruth). We had the options of the AD or D+ route (it goes F/PD/AD/D/TD/ED - although one web site I've found say the routes there are PD and TD!) - either way we did the hardest! The route climbed 259m in a length of 800m as it went diagonally up this big rock face. There were basically 4 types of terrain/pitches: a very few bits of walking/easy scrambling where you needed little protection, lots of traverses where you were using natural small rock ledges and grooves but with some sort of metal handholds, a few corners highly exposed where you had to step around to the next traverse, and finally a number of vertical climbs of 5m - 20m where you had metal rungs  which were sometimes obliquely spaced. The AD and D+ shared all the top 2/3rds. But the D+ start included a 20m overhanging vertical climb with a sloping wooden plank at the top - which looked flat from below but was a complete nightmare when you got to it. Ruth was pretty much pulled up this bit by the instructor  (she rapidly fell out of love with via Ferrata, but after about the 1/2 mark really got into her stride and enjoyed it). I thought I'd never be able to raise my right arm again my muscles felt so burnt out (and we were only 1/3 the way up). Protection was by two slings and carabiners - but you clipped these onto a fixed metal cable which was only attached (and so would stop a carbiner)
every 5m or so, so from the vertical climb you' slide 5m before the carabiner stopped, and then the sling had about another 5m of shock absorber built in so you'd then fall another 5m before you stopped!

Just to add to the fun most of the fixing points where you had to unclip and clip form the line (one carabiner at a time of course) where right on the crux moves! All this was about 60m above ground level - straight down. I thought exposure was going to be a problem, but you were so focussed on just trying to hang on and get up the only chance
you had to look around (and take photos) was on the easy bit. Needless to say we were all very relieved when we got to the top!

Once back at the town we soaked in the hot tub for an hour or two and had a cafe and crepe at the local Salon de The.

Canyoning tomorrow then home, but after today it should be a doddle
(assuming I've got my strength back and I'll be giving the water jumps
> 5m a miss anyway!)

***Imported from old blog***

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