Via Ferrata in Vallcebre, Catalunya: Are You Brave Enough?

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I thought the via ferrata in Vallcebre Catalunya would be an easy one. To my surprise it wasn't. I loved the thrill and the challenge. Would you do this?

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Via Ferrata in Vallcebre, Catalunya: Are You Brave Enough?

  1. 1. Via Ferrata in Vallcebre, Catalunya: Are You Brave Enough? monkeysandmountains.com /via-f errata-catalunya Are you brave enough t o do a via f errat a? First, let me explain, since you may never have heard of one. I hadn’t until I moved to Germany. Also called a Klettersteig in German, a via ferrata is a steel cable fixed to rock. Climbers attach their harness to the cable and make their way up a rock face. Depending on the route, there may be climbing aids such as iron rungs or steps carved into the rock. At other times, your only climbing aid is your own agility and strength. In other words, the complete opposite of our relaxing sailing trip down the Costa Brava coast the day before. When I had the chance to do a via ferrata in Vallcebre, Catalunya, I jumped at the chance. This is my element . I love
  2. 2. hiking and scrambling. I only discovered via ferratas a couple of years ago but have loved the ones I’ve done. But to be honest, I didn’t have high expectations. Via ferratas are mainly found in the Dolomites in Italy and Austria, with a few in Germany. They were originally established to move soldiers across mountains in WWI. But in Catalunya? Obviously this wouldn’t be a REAL one. I was wrong. The most challenging part of the climb was the first few steps. That might not sound like a lot, but when your feet are slipping up the rock bringing your body down, it’s damn hard work. Immediately, I cursed myself for not doing more push ups I tried again, slip, slip, slip. I became frustrated and unharnessed letting somebody else go in my place. I could quit. I thought about quitting. I had a good excuse. A recent surgery had left me feeling much weaker than normal. There’s nothing wrong in recogniz ing your limits. But instinctively I knew, that it was within my limits. I gathered my inner strength, changed my self talk from I can’t to Of course I can. Despit e my shaky arms and running shoes wit h no grip, I was brave enough damn it ! This mount ain would not get t he best of me. I still slipped, but less so. And instead of moving backwards, I was slowly but surely moving upwards. Once I reached the first rung on the ladder, I breathed a sigh of relief. The toughest part was over….or so I thought.
  3. 3. I made my way steadily up the 90° ladder built into the wall. This was the easy part. I caught up with the rest of the group and waited for them to move on.
  4. 4. While I was waiting I started chatting with Miquel, a local who lived near Barcelona. He didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Spanish, but I liked him immediately. He had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile that reached his eyes. Tranquilo, tranquilo he would say to me while making a slow down gesture with his hand. Tranquilo, tranquilo he said again during another difficult part, while opening his arm to the incredible valley and mountain view. To be honest I was so focused on the overhang that I had to get myself across using my almost non- existent upper body strength, I hadn’t even noticed the view. His keen observation skills picked up on that. Watching him climb up slowly, but steadily behind me, with a crinkly smile on his face, I get the feeling that he’s somebody who really knows how to enjoy life. To enjoy being in the moment. He saw me in weakness, emotionally and physically tired. He didn’t encourage me. He didn’t say You can do it! Inst ead he said Tranquilo, tranquilo, reminding me t o t ake t ime t o enjoy t he journey – even t he t ough part s. Meet ing Miquel was one of t he highlight s of my t rip t o Cat alunya. Know Bef ore You Do a Via Ferrat a in Vallcebre, Cat alunya Despite what I previously thought, via ferratas in Catalunya can kick your butt. We only did one that was ranked as medium difficulty. Still, all of our group found it more challenging than anticipated. But every single one of us loved it! Check out this video to see what it was really like.
  5. 5. Via ferratas are not for you if you’re afraid of heights. If you’re lacking upper body strength like I am, it doesn’t hurt to start doing push ups a few weeks beforehand. Wear hiking boots. I had runners on and the lack of tread made it challenging to get a grip in certain places (especially the beginning) Oscar was our guide from CercleAventura. He was fantastic and took lots of photos of our group. In addition to via ferratas, they also run canyoning and rafting trips. YOU are brave enough. As long as you are in reasonable shape you can do it. Most import ant ly, remember Tranquilo, tranquilo….especially during t he t ough part s. Thank you to the Catalunya Tourism Board for making my trip possible. As always all opinions expressed are my own.

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