Klettersteig by night…

Our vacation has officially started! We handed over our keys to friends who’ll live in our apartment for the upcoming three weeks and got in the car at 5am last Friday. Our first stop: Grindelwald, Switzerland. You might assume that I would like to do some running and chilling during the first few days. I would! But, friends of us discovered a once-in-a-lifetime event: a klettersteig by night…

Volunteers are still hanging up the lights when we arrive at 9pm

If you’re curious what a klettersteig is, it’s a combination of hiking and climbing, going up a mountain by using a specific route of iron pins, cables and ladders. It’s freaking scary. We did the Kandersteg Allmenalp (check out the Via Ferrata video on YouTube if you want to get a feeling for hów scary exactly…). Klettersteig routes are known for their insanely high climbs and traverses, looking down into a whopping 600m nothing!

As I am a big wimp when it comes to heights (or you know, the dark, or spiders, or climbing) I told them ‘no way in hell you’ll get me up that mountain. At night. Are you nuts?! Nope. Not doing it’. But that made me feel bad, because they were so enthusiastic and my lovely boyfriend told me he would stay with me if I didn’t want to go. So I put on my big-girl pants and said I’d join them…

I cried. For like 15 minutes. The first few steps were incredibly slippery and accompanied by countless big black spiders. I AM SO SCARED. A part of the route was built in overhanging rocks, that’s a big strain on my arms! But we’re doing it. I know there will be a scary bridge somewhere in the first quarter. Before I know it, we’re there…

This bridge crosses the waterfall, but is wobbly as…

I felt like a cord-danser. But involuntarily. Step by step I cross the waterfall on the cord. Don’t look further down. Don’t look further down. Okay cool, I’m there! ‘Hey Ella. Well done! You’ve just had the easy not-scary one’. Oh. Yeah no thanks… not far from that point, there’s a ladder that takes you out of a cave and has a twist halfway up the mountain…

Who invents a twisted ladder out of a cave?!

Are they NUTS?! But, going back down is not an option so I keep meekly following one of our friends while Victor is encouraging me to keep going. Sure thing honey… once we pass the insane ladder, we go up the mountain wall with iron pins again. The idea that we are hundreds of meters above the ground doesn’t help me and we focus on the task at hand.

At some point we realise we haven’t seen any tiny lights for a long time. Come to think of it, there aren’t any headlights around us either. And the fourth friend is also nowhere to be found… Shit. What did we do? When we look to our right, we can see the intended route going up the mountain. We definitely took a wrong turn. This is nót great for my anxiety…

Imagine being at a mountain wall, climbing your way up without any rest, total pitch black around you and the knowledge that if you fall, you’ll make a 10m fall down before the klettersteig set blocks your fall. And now imagine that happening at a part of the mountain where nobody else is but two friends, no one aware of the accidental detour you’re making. So we upped the focus and kept going.

These nice ‘ladders’ were a relief from long ascents on the iron pins

The routes came together again after a good 40 minutes and luckily our friend was waiting for us. Turned out we did the ‘more difficult, hardcore route’. Great. Should I feel like a total noob or a total badass now hehe. And then it occurs to me that we’re only halfway through. With more scary shit to come.

A million spiders and scary, intense 30 minutes later, we arrive at the second bridge. Fun fact, at this bridge, you also need to clip your safety set onto the next part of the bridge twice. Fun! Wobbling on the cord, I focus on my breathing and inform Victor that we’ll do whatever Í want for the rest of our vacation. Or rather, our life. Yes. That sounds about fair.

I survived. We climbed the last part after the scary bridge and after some intense ascents, we get to the top. We made it! I have never been so scared in my life! But I did it! AWYEAH. A celebratory high five and then we set off for the final walk to the lift to take us down again. It’s almost midnight and I can’t wait to be back at the tent again. The high kept me awake for another few hours, but that is definitely worth it.

I know one thing. This will be a holiday I will never forget! Let’s just hope the rest of the vacation will be less of a strain on my nerves… 😀

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