It's Harald all over again. He has just discovered the via ferrata and now gives the impression of having invented the alpine discipline. Our group of men is hanging on his every word, or rather: on his rope. Yes, he is now officially a "ferratist", as the via ferrata practitioners like to call themselves.
... I thought to myself. Until today, I didn't even know that the "via ferrata" in question existed. Without realizing it, I took out my smartphone and looked under the table to see that these are safe climbing routes on natural or artificial rock. Apparently, even those who are not climbers or mountaineers can venture into vertical rock faces as long as they have the right equipment!
While Harald enjoys describing the spectacular scenery of his via ferrata, the waiter serves our pizzas. A little distracted, my gaze lingers on his mouth mask, whose pattern of swaying salami slices, strutting grapes and clapping olives makes me smile. Suddenly, my eyes light up: I'm glad that today we're not talking about the pandemic but about a lively topic, and that's why I'm happy to let myself be infected by Harald's enthusiasm! When my neighbor at the table takes the initiative of a via ferrata weekend together, we toast to the idea with a glass of Barolo and the atmosphere at our table is in full swing.
While we novices are struggling in our rented via ferrata equipment behind Harald, the pro shines in his own equipment, as expected.
Here and there steps and short ladders are mounted, occasionally we also go through exposed areas with a rope guardrail. Not that I am one of the strongest of my generation, but somehow it all seems a bit easy. I had imagined a little more thrill and physical effort. Not to be cheeky, but I wonder why we, who are seasoned walkers and don't suffer from vertigo, have to wear any safety equipment! Harald, who is a few steps above me, heard my comment and immediately gives me a punishing look.
As if the mountain had heard me, an extremely exciting rocky section follows soon after:
we move smoothly and spiritedly through the carefully secured via ferrata. We quickly figured out the principle of self-belaying: hang the carabiners on the fixed metal cables, climb up, and hang on again at the next section. We'd love to take a selfie now, but we lack a free hand. Instead, we let our enthusiasm flow and wait for the echo of the mountain. Progressively, the valley under our feet becomes smaller and smaller...
Many physical efforts later, we reach a dreamy panoramic point with an alpine kiosk. Here we settle down, a bit tired, but in the best possible mood for a picnic on the rocky base. With refreshing drinks in hand, we toast to our great and unexpected mountain adventure and thank Harald for his excellent advice on the via ferrata. One thing is for sure: "Via Ferrata Reloaded" will be on tomorrow's agenda! For today, we decide to finish our experiences with a comfortable descent of the valley by cable car. And to top it all off, we invite Harald to a beer fondue this evening.