Climb Every Mountain: My First Via Ferrata in Switzerland

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True, my recent jaunt to Switzerland was a “work trip,” but really it was all about pushing my body to the limits and sufficiently freaking myself out.

Yes, that’s me above, dangling by two carabiners and little else—without being belayed, mind you—somewhere around 10,000 feet in the Alps. Full disclosure? It was AWESOME. Especially when the end result looked a little something like this:

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

But I digress. It was the day after our mountain biking excursion in St. Moritz, and we headed just down the road in the glorious Alps and up an aerial tram to Diavolezza. Half the group opted for a (vaguely strenuous) hike; the others of us (read: THE CRAZIES) decided to scale the mountain by way of rock and ladder steps bolted to the side of the mountain. Sounds like a grand plan, no?

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

Not when no one’s belaying you down below, and you’re relying solely on your own meager competence to clip on and off of every line without falter. Then? Then, you’re just downright insane.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

But if you do so with a smile on your face, then people don’t seem to think twice about the lack of bolts and screws keeping things secure in your noggin. Nevertheless, it took us a good half an hour’s hike to get to the base of the glacier, from where we would ascend the Via Ferrata Piz Trovat.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

From the base, we tackled a series of ladder-like steps mixed in with just plain climbing rocks, which we used to make our way around and up the mountain.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

Sometimes I like to feign the attitude of a bad a$$, when in reality I’m scared out of my mind. You would be, too, if you looked down (camera in hand, no less) and saw this:

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

And that was on an “easy” leg of the climb at that. The harder areas were where we were moving horizontally and with no iron footholds either. Just loose rock, which had a long way down to tumble if left to its own devices. I continued to experience the odd sensation, though, of being terrified while looking ahead and making my way up the face, but being oddly pacified when I looked down to see the ground thousands of feet below me. It was strange, I will admit, this reverse effect.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

Though, for me, nothing was scarier than the sight of this suspension bridge, a wobbly sucker.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

So naturally, Rob and I, both possessing a bit of a daredevil streak, went across it—three times (and at the same time, too, which it strictly advises against more than one on the bridge at once)—so the videographers accompanying us could get great silhouette shots (which I will post if ever they send me the links!). Again, I’m always all about helping a fellow journalist out, holla.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

You can’t tell it here with a lack of scale, but it’s a looooong way down.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

Two hours and change later, we reached the summit, and there was wine waiting for us. Of course, in Switzerland, at 10,000 feet, there’s gonna be wine. Wouldn’t expect anything less.

Via Feratta, Switzerland | Camels & Chocolate

Was it terrifying? DUH. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

COMMENTS
  • October 6, 2009
    Christy

    Nice job! : )

  • October 6, 2009

    wow. I really want to try that – it looks amazing!

  • October 6, 2009

    That looks fun! Although I can’t imagine it being fun for the people that put up the ladders and suspension bridges.

  • October 6, 2009

    That is insane! But the jacket is cute 🙂

  • October 6, 2009

    How fun does that look?!?!

  • October 6, 2009
    k

    That looks so awesome! Ahhh, the adreniline rush!

  • October 6, 2009

    Yikes! You are brave woman.

  • October 6, 2009

    I’ve always been intrigued by the Via Ferrata, though I associated them more with Italy than Switzerland. I love that picture of the shadow people crossing the bridge.

  • October 6, 2009

    Are there snakes to slide down?

  • October 6, 2009

    You are one brave, crazy or stupid lady. What a rush! Yes, I’d join you in a heartbeat. And probably be more scared plus extremely slow. Those views are amazing! Love the video. So, how did you get down?

    BTW, you look great in the jacket.

  • October 6, 2009

    I’d do it just so I can wear that sexy helmet. Rrrrr!!!

  • October 6, 2009
    Slynnro

    Suspension bridges in PLAYGROUNDS scare me.

  • October 6, 2009

    Some climb, that! Oh, and you do love The Sound of Music, don’t you? 🙂

    P.S. Love the jacket.

  • October 6, 2009

    Amazing! I love watching and reading about vicariously – I am not brave enough!

  • October 7, 2009

    I give you big props for that bridge…im way to afraid of heights to do that!

  • October 7, 2009

    Wow, I’ve never even attempted such a feat and I’ve been living in Switzerland for more than three years. You’re brave!

  • October 7, 2009
    Rhi

    I’m *SO GLAD* you had that helmet on!

  • October 7, 2009

    That suspension bridge looked like fun! The rest of this looked terrifying, and I am super impressed at your daredevilness!

  • October 7, 2009
    mjb

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’d ever be up there. Unless my husband drugged me and convinced me there was a hidden belay.

  • October 7, 2009

    oh guuurrrrllll you are brave! (and that is one cute jacket!)

  • October 8, 2009

    Yep, You’re a bad ass. And I’m convinced that ALL bad asses are simply putting on an outer attitude to cover up inner terror- THAT ability is the true challenge!

  • October 8, 2009

    wow, you really are a bad ass… keep on doing that, it’s great!

  • October 8, 2009

    I love your little nod to the Sound of Music. And are editors like, “I need someone to cover this crazy, out of control, life risking thing – I know – Kristin will do it.” You are so brave! And that jacket is so cute, I was actually thinking that before I got to the bottom of your post.

  • October 8, 2009

    My legs are shaking just reading your post and seeing the pictures. How can you take a picture while climbing? And the pictures come out so stunning!!

  • October 8, 2009

    Damn, girl! No belay? I think I would have expired on the spot. What an amazing experience. Especially with wine reward.

  • July 3, 2011

    Nice job! : )

  • July 27, 2011

    Killer climb, killer photos and killer vid!

    You look studly in your carabiners but next time TAKE ME WITH YOU!

  • May 18, 2013

    Amazing experience related climb information thanks for this post

  • March 24, 2017

    From someone who lives in Switzerland: you’re not very smart people in my opinion. Tons of people die on the mountains every year and doing stuff like going double on a single bridge or drinking at 10,000 ft is just dumb.

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