Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Iron Way

There’s this place in Kentucky called Via Feratta. We happened upon it by chance many years ago on our ill-hatched plan to go rock climbing outdoors during spring break. It was something the kids could do. Kids were supposed to have an adult with them when they climbed and I was absolutely terrified of heights. But it was a slow day and the kids managed to convince Mountain Mark that they were experienced rock climbers and could handle it without an adult supervising and I apparently impressed Mountain Mark as not the suing type. So they got to go. I sat bundled up on the patio watching from afar and taking an occasional picture. It never occurred to me that I’d ever do such a thing. Never. No more than that I would strap on a backpack with a tent inside and hike into the wilderness to set up my own tent and sleep there. For several days in a row. Never. Ever. Well, 2 years later, after a few days backpacking in the Daniel Boone National Wilderness, I was in a climbing harness on that wall, doing it. And . . . it was fun! Thrilling! Challenging! Exhilarating! Hard! Awesome!
You wear a climbing harness, and the route up and along is steel rods formed into a step that are glued into the rock face. Along side the route is a steel cable bolted to the wall. Your climbing harness has two sets of clips. They are clipped to the steel cable so that you are secured to the cliff wall. When you get to a bolt along the cable, you move first one of your clips to the other side of it, then the other, so that you are always secured by at least one of them.
On the Wilderness trip, we did the Via Ferrata after several days of backpacking, so I was a bit worn out already, so my family went back again on Columbus Day weekend, which is when these photo were taken. It is a truly amazing experience for someone who was formerly absolutely terrified of heights. It is not easy for me: I must pause frequently to calm the panic. But it is empowering to be able to do that and the views are amazing!
Anybody want to go back?

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