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Here’s a piece of advice: don’t climb a mountain in a thunderstorm, even if it is a Via Ferrata. Experienced climbers think of those as mountain-climbing light.
A Via Ferrata is a mountain that has hand and footholds already in place and there is a metal wire running to the top for your safety carabiners to attach to. It is safe but still.
JOHNNY MÜLLER: If you were to fall, you would fall to the next piece of metal there that’s attached. Then this would start to work. So falling on a Via Ferrata is not a very good thing.
HELMICK: OK. Yes. Falling is not a good thing. OK.
Johnny Müller has been mountain climbing for decades.Normally Johnny wouldn’t climb in these conditions but I talked him into it.
This is the Via Ferrata in Andermatt,which Johnny calls an easy one. A novice climber might think otherwise.
Basically, you grab a hold of the metal hooks along the way and you’ll snap your two carabiners that are attached to your harness to a wire running up the mountain.
MÜLLER: This is the whole fun part of the Via Ferrata you do it about a thousand times. One and then the second one.
HELMICK: OK. So the wire is in these circular hooks and in order to get from one to the other you have to unhook and then rehook. OK.
MÜLLER: Well done.
HELMICK: And that is why you have two, so you are never free to go (falling down).
MÜLLER: Always attached.
HELMICK: Because there is a nice little waterfall down there with some sharp rocks.
The pouring rain was relentless and made the mountain and the metal footholds very slippery. Also there was lightning and when your attached to a long metal wire and holding metal hooks on a side of a mountain, it gets a bit uncomfortable.
So we didn’t summit.
HOT TIP: Regular tennis shoes (or trainers) might not be suitable for the climb, especially if it is a bit wet. Also, don’t climb a Via Ferrata in a thunderstorm.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: This adventure isn’t for everyone. You have to have a bit of upper body strength and be somewhat fit to take on a mountain…even if it has hand and footholds already in place.
MÜLLER: The first part is just below and the next part goes up to the summit you can see the metal thing.
MÜLLER:We’ll just go up a few meters because otherwise it is too dangerous with this weather.
There are a number of Via Ferratas in Switzerland. They are accessible for a sporty family or a people interested in mountain climbing but not yet an expert. It can be a bit intense.
MÜLLER: That is why one takes a mountain guide. He is then in charge and looks after the clients, and the clients can enjoy it. Like with kids, I would rope them up. They would still use their (safety) sets but then they are attached to me so if they are suddenly not concentrating and undo both carabiners, they are not attached anymore but they are attached to my rope.
Mountain guides like Johnny will cost about 450 francs for the day. The harness, helmet and carabiners will cost you between 20 and 30 francs for the day.
Today’s expert is Johnny Müller, he runs Peak Dreams mountain climbing and can be reached through Alpina Sport in Andermatt.
So the mountain and the thunderstorm teamed up on me and won. I was a long shot anyway. On a nice day though, the mountain is climbable and might bring out the Sir Edmund Hillary in all of us.
That’s today’s Adventure Switzerland on WRS. I’m Alex Helmick.