Social Media and Via Ferrata

People on linkedin were discussing whether social media campaigns are worth organising and keeping. When it comes to extreme sports such as Via Ferrata, rock climbing and other extreme sports then I believe that the audience is ready and enthusiastic enough for a social media presence to be desirable.

Via Ferrata is an outdoor sport that can be practiced in France, Italy, Spain, Switezrland, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Peru. As a result of the diverse place where this sport can be carried out so social media became an excellent avenue through which to share information about the sport.

 

I have loved the sport of via ferrata for five years now, half a decade. What I loved about it was the simplicity of the sport. After just two or three climbing lessons and going with a guide once I saw that I could handle via ferrata comfortably without a guide. I always insisted that I would take people with rock climbing experience, not absolute beginners.

Via Ferrata is a specific sport requiring specific equipment and specific experience. It requires a head for heights and an ability to hike for an hour or two before a climb and another hour or two after the climb. As the locations are usually remote it also requires someone with a car and whom can navigate.

Social networks such as Glocals for Geneva and Lausanne, Xdreams, for Geneva specifically and the Via Ferrata Suisse group for the French speaking part of Switzerland are good places to find participants. The first two examples are to connect with the international/english speaking community and the latter is to connect with the French speaking community.

Glocals is a local social network helping the international community in Geneva, Lausanne and other cities to meet up and be active. Through this site you can meet people to work on hangover, meet people to scuba dive and meet people to do outdoor sports such as hiking, climbing, via ferrata, swimming, canyoning and much more. Due to the nature of the social network are spread around Switzerland and the meeting point is usually the event, with car sharing from strategic points.

 

Via Ferrata Suisse is a nice online community for French speaking via ferrata practitioners on Facebook. As they are spread across the French speaking parts of Switzerland they can provide information and tips on via ferrata that are local.

Aside from connecting people social networks and social media are great for the sharing of pictures, personal accounts and textual information about via ferrata. Some people want beautiful landscapes and so pictures will help them select which via ferrata to do. Others are afraid of heights so they will avoid being too far from the ground. A third group will look at how exertional via ferratas will be. I have seen two people run out of energy at Plan Praz and I have seen everyone feel weak by the time they finish the Leukerbad Via Ferrata.

Tourism professionals and equipment manufacturers can benefit from a social media presence. I see that Iloveclimbing, Suunto, PETZL, Mammut and other brands actively share the adventures that either their athletes or enthusiasts of their equipment are enjoying. It’s a great way to make me dream of going to some locations, getting that piece of kit or trying an activity at that time of day.

To give a specific example I have wanted to do the Moléson by night Via Ferrata for years now and have never got around to it. For two or three years it was because of work and this year it was because of the weather and because I had already booked Leukerbad for the weekend it was moved to. Next year I will make it.

I love suunto, Mammut and PETZL. Rather than advertise to the city dweller like Apple, Fitbit and withings do they organise social media campaigns around the great outdoors and around extreme sports. As a result of their social media policy I identify very strongly with their products. In the case of suunto I have dive computers and fitness watches. I understand the passion that their athletes represent in their social media campaigns.

Social media is about socialisation and passion. Via Ferrata is a sport that people feel passionate about but because it requires physical fitness and a head for heights your pre-existing group of friends may not be the best suited for your passion to take off. That’s where social networks and social media can help find new via ferrata, see what to be wary of and meet new people. According to these three parameters Via Ferrata and social media are perfect for each other. Sports companies, tourism offices and transport infrastructure would result from a social media presence.

Netflix provides a better opportunity for documentary content distribution than Discovery

In the 1990s when satellite distribution of television content was in it’s infancy we got a satellite dish and I would watch the Discovery Channel from the start of the broadcast day to when the programmes were played for the second time that day.

By watching so many documentaries I learned a lot about the world. I watched Mythbusters, Lonely Planet, Modern Marvels and many many other documentaries. It is only ten years later that I stopped watching Discovery. By that time I was no longer in the family home and so documentary viewing was more restrictive. Whilst at the University of Bournemouth and the University of Westminster I did take advantage to watch as many documentaries as I could find. The dissertation I wrote during my third year of studies was about the documentary genre. I had an academic reason to watch these documentaries. It was no longer a hobby.

Aside from the selection of Discovery channels and University VHS tapes documentaries can also be found on national and European channels. I am thinking of Temps Present, Passe Moi Les Jumelles and other factual programmes and current affairs content. These documentaries fit within a specific format to be broadcast at the same times every week.

We then have artistic documentaries like those broadcast on Arte, shown at independent cinemas, festivals and more. These documentaries are not adapted for mainstream viewing. They fill a niche. They are sometimes hard to watch and other times so niche that aside from those with that passion or interest no one will ever watch them.

The Discovery Channel network broadcasts set documentaries at set times on set channels for a set number of hours per day. Viewers can either watch documentaries as they are broadcast or on demand. As PVR arrived viewers could shape their viewing habits around their lifestyle rather than the other way around.

Discovery channel documentaries have two serious flaws, that as a documentary professional cannot stand. The first of these is commercial breaks. When I watch content I want to watch it from start to finish. I don’t want it to be interrupted because it means that for two or three minutes I have to find something else to do. This could be a serious trigger to people having a laptop or tablet with them when watching TV. The second very big flaw with Discovery TV documentaries is sensationalism and repetition.

I found that when watching hour long documentaries on Discovery television channels more than half of the time is spent repeating what has happened and what will happen with very little content left over. You will spend an hour watching a show that could have been over in just 24 minutes. This is an excellent way to lose viewers.

Netflix is a video on demand platform. This platform makes available all of the content it has licensed to it’s customers. This content is ready to play within seconds and has no adverts. This is great for content creators. It means that they can spend more time moving the story forward. There is no need to worry about viewers starting to watch a show half way through. It means that if you have a 42 minute slot you can spend 52 minutes telling the story. This is great for content creators.

The flaw of Discovery Channel documentaries and commercial television in general is that they make mediocre content and then add adverts every few minutes. This means that a mediocre programme will be watched from one commercial to another before the channel is changed. They live under the misconception that sensationalism and excited narration will keep viewers. It has the opposite effect, at least on me.

Netflix allows you to watch the BBC Blue Planet and Planet Earth documentaries with no adverts. This gives documentary makers an advantage. Imagine watching Planet Earth documentary episodes that are 52 minutes long with an extra 15 minutes or more of adverts thrown in. For this reason Netflix is an excellent documentary distribution platform.

‘Make what people want to watch and the rest goes with it’. I don’t think that has changed at all. My job every day is to make what people want to watch.”

I have written several times about my notion that documentaries are encyclopaedias. Planet Earth and Blue Planet documentaries are a perfect demonstration of this. Each episode is about a specific biome. By watching each documentary your knowledge and understanding of the world around you increases.

Compare this to the sensationalist hyperactive content that the Discovery channel network places in between adverts. Their content is so sensationalist and so condescending that I switch programme within minutes, if not seconds, of tuning in. Through having to appeal to a mass audience the Discovery Channel documentary network fails me as a viewer. Their content is too unpleasant to watch.

I want to learn, I want good camera work, good editing and good narration. When documentaries have all of these features I will watch them. I want both the content creator and the content distributor to treat me with respect. Although Netflix is not perfect it does a better job than Discovery.

The Leukerbad Via Ferrata

The Leukerbad Via Ferrata is a mythical Via Ferrata for those who practice the sport in the french speaking part of Switzerland. It is mythical both for the duration and for the vertical movement. The climb itself takes around 5hr30-6hr and the vertical change is 1000m. Via ferrata is rock climbing for tourists. A team of specialists look at a climbing route and then install a safety cable, spikes and other features to help people climb the via ferrata. The cable is static.

Via ferrata have a number of origins. Some via ferrata routes are along old smuggling routes, others were used by the French resistance as hide aways and others were used to get troops from one side of the mountain to the other during the first world war. In the 1960s to 1970s they were reinstated to attract tourists.

Leukerbad is a spa town with a collection of baths heated by geothermal activity. This year I chose to stay at the Alfa hotel and the price included access to a covered parking, access to the spa and access to the lifts. When you see that the lift is 34CHF and the Spa is around the same price the saving is interesting. As the town is small I parked the car when I arrived and did not use it until I left.

People like to catch the first cable car up and try to make it down before the last cable car down. Walking down to town is possible but most people are knackered after the via ferrata.

The Via Ferrata has three main parts. The first part takes you from the base of the Via Ferrata, by the big Swiss flag and up to a terrasse where grass grows and people have snacks. If you are not used to spikes then this route will surprise you as much as it did me. I would recommend finding a shorter Via Ferrata (VF) with spikes before doing Leukerbad.

Usually the Via Ferrata is not this busy. Two or three groups were active this weekend.
Usually the Via Ferrata is not this busy. Two or three groups were active this weekend.

The second part can be tackled one of two ways. The first way is to climb up as a climber, using foot holds and hand holds wherever you can find them. For those with less experience pulling yourself up with the cable is possible. If you use the cable then do not make the mistake I made my previous three times. If you are not afraid of heights then pull on the cable perpendicular to the cliff. It’s easier. This requires that you are not bothered with heights. The route has been changed. It used to be a more direct and upwards path. Now the path zigzags until you get to the cave.

Half way up the path to the cave a new VF variant is being added which takes you to the right and upwards towards a nepalese bridge before rejoining with the main route. The cave is interesting. It gets darker but you do not need a torch. In the cave you have two variants, easy, and hard. The easy route is along spikes and you climb up a ladder. The hard route has standard hand holds, a wooden bridge and then crosses over to the main route.

Where the two paths intersect you exit the cave and go up a chimney. The Chimney is relatively easy and you can rest against the wall. It then traverses right and you go upwards. As there are few hand holds and footholds you can either rely on climbing experience and climb using the rock or you can use the cable as I described in a previous paragraph. There is eventually a small plateau where you can have a quick snack, a drink and restore your energy. You still have a few more minutes of climbing until a real plateau. From this plateau you can enjoy the view.

This is the point by which I was usually exhausted. For the first time doing this via ferrata I was smiling at this point. Usually I’m exhausted and can’t wait for it to be over.

The passage through the cave you do on foot is nice but I have never had the courage to go over the edge and climb up. I take the footpath across the scree field to where the two paths intersect again. From here you have another half an hour of climbing to a slightly overhanging ladder. When a VF friend got to the top of the ladder and saw over the crest she said “Wow” because that view is so spectacular. The source of the “Wow” is a large circus with two glaciers. This year the glaciers had a lot of snow and you could clearly see the curves which illustrate glaciers in action.

If you take the Alfa hotel then your entrance to the spa is free. You will need to ask them for a card for the locker. The spa has a bath fed with warm volcanic water at 47 degrees and with larger cooler pools. Those pools are at about 36°c. You have the choice between bubbles or jets.

For food I ate pasta the first night. On the second night I had an entrecôte Sauce Café de Paris and it was delicious at the Pizzeria Giardino.

While I was capturing portals whilst playing Ingress I walked through the old town of Leukerbad and found these traditional buildings and implements.

The Dumbing Down of mainstream media

Recently I have found mainstream anglo-saxon media much harder to tolerate. A few years ago I went to see 90 films in 9 months. I had no TV and the World Wide Web wasn’t quite as accessible then as it is today. For years I could watch BBC World from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I also read articles and blog posts.

I can’t stand the hollywood film output anymore. They are so comfortable with their formulas that within ten minutes I knew the plot line.

I used to read dozens of newspapers a day and dozens of blog posts a day. I noticed that blog posts started to become formulaic and so stopped reading blog after blog. The quality of content went down at the same time as output went up. Every blog post was a Top Ten article.

Newspaper headlines used to provide the audience with information about what the article was about. You’d read the headline, skim the first paragraph and decide what to read next. As Social media became socially acceptable for growing portions of society so we see the decline in headline usefulness. Headlines should answer the who, what where, when, why how questions and engage you as a reader. The Guardian, the BBC, The Independent and other news sources rather than writing headlines about the content of articles write sensationalist headlines that are designed to blackmail you in to clicking a link. Usually the articles hidden behind these headlines are a waste of time. They provide little of value and they assume ignorance of current affairs.

We live in the information age. Within 15 seconds whether you’re sitting at the top of a via ferrata or in a library you can get information on any topic that interests you. Remember that the web is the hypertext markup language. When you write today you can add links to help contextualise the story, you can provide videos and pictures. You can also write in as much depth as you would like.

In the information age I would have liked, and I would have expected that writing would become more demanding. Knowledge would be assumed and context would be easy to provide. When background information is a search engine result away it would be logical to assume that experts and writers could write as if we, the lay reader, were also experts.

Look at the way the refugee crisis is covered. We see terms like “thousands drown in sea” “Fortress Europe should let in more refugees” and many more phrases. These phrases do nothing to inform and educate the audience. They are only entertaining us. They are encouraging prejudice and stereotypes rather than discourse. With unlimited bandwidth, time and space the topic of refugees and migrants could be covered in great depth. Documentaries could be produced to provide context as to why people are pushed from where they lived. Xenophobia is a result of over-simplification. Imagine that tomorrow when you wake up you see François Hollande or David Cameron in Calais speaking with refugees. What effect would that have on the national debates of migration? We see ourselves as liberals and we see ourselves as citizens of the world. Why, as citizens of the world do we never see our leaders visit refugees? Let’s forget the status quo and let’s go for a contextualised actuality. (Actuality, Actualité, french for news. I chose not to use the stigmatised word Reality).

Another example of the dumbing down is the TWIT network. I used to love listening to those podcasts. I would listen to at least five or six of their programs a week. TWIT, Macbreak weekly and others. I started to lose interest when they switched to video and my interest decayed completely by the time it was more chit chat than news. Editing gave their shows value. Without editing you’re wasting an hour and a half of listening time.

Media production and advertising revenue is based on the “Lowest Common Denominator” theory. The simpler content is to understand the more views it will get. The more views it gets the more valuable it is. When media assets are owned by the financial sector and when giving dividends to share holders is more important than value to costumers so you get the erosion of quality. This erosion in quality means chasing a greater number of eyeballs with an ever decreasing quality of content. The Guardian, the BBC and other “mainstream media” companies have fallen in to the trap. They don’t need the money, they’re subsidised, but they need the eyeballs to justify their funding nonetheless.

If the mainstream media want to destroy themselves then that’s fine. In theory. In practice this leaches in to the social media landscape. As an early adopter I join social networks and social media distribution platforms in their early days, when the intellectual, entrepreneurial and curious people are around. Conversations and friendships make empty social networks look and feel lively. As users engage stickiness grows. As stickiness increases so value increases. Look at Twitter and Facebook as prime examples. Twitter was a fantastic conversation tool in it’s early days, so fantastic that for the first time in a social network I would meet with users every week at it’s peak. Facebook was a uni friend network. We had all partied together and as we knew each other well we could be open and social in a closed network. When advertisers, social media gremlins and PR professionals came in to these landscapes so the conversation chased the rabbit down the hole of the lowest common denominator. Conversations diluted and friendships decayed to the point where trolling became standard.

The dumbing down of the mainstream media led to the decline in sociability and friendliness on social networks at a time when social media became mainstream. As a positive last thought everything is cyclical. We will see mainstream media smarten up again. We will go back to long form articles, and we will go back to interesting film plots.

Moléson Night – Via ferrata at night

I expect that going to do the Moléson Via Ferrata by night will be like scuba diving in the lake. I expect that on the Moléson night I will see the cliff face in front of me and that if I turn around I will see darkness around me. I suspect I will be able to see certain stars and city lights in nearby towns. I am curious to see how bottomless the void behind me will feel. I also expect a fun ambiance.

You need to sign up to participate and an e-mail is enough. They want your name and address, to know whether you have your own equipment or whether you need to rent and whether you have already tried via ferrata before. Now that I signed up I am looking forward to the new sensation.

This is a via ferrata I have done when it was cloudy, when it was about to rain, with maintenance crew and with friends. I know it well. I look forward to experiencing it in yet another way.

On the lack of Common interests and mobile phones getting the blame

On Linkedin and Facebook people believe that mobile phones are making people less sociable then they would be if phones were not around. They believe that the world in which we lived before mobile phones was an open and sociable place where everyone communicated with everyone. These people are forgetting the social context that brought them Home Alone, Problem Child and other films.

Society and social interactions have always been about finding the people whom you appreciate and those whom you prefer to keep away from. In the age before mobile phones I remember watching films and cartoons where certain characters were ostracised for being different. These people were seen as isolated or loners. Society does not like these people. We see it conversation and we see it in films.

If a group of people in the physical world does not want to spend time with you, does not want to listen to you because your passions are incompatible with theirs, because your tone of voice is not right then that is their right. These people though, are not satisfied with excluding you from their conversations, are not satisfied with having their monologues and showing no interest in you. They will go a step further. They will prevent you from entertaining yourself.

One of the most common forms of entertainment when people are not fully engaged with groups is the mobile phone. Mobile phone use is stigmatised by a lot of people. Just a few weeks ago I took a chance and met with a new group. As I am an ingress player and as I had nothing positive to add to the conversation I took the opportunity to farm from two portals that were in range. As I live in the countryside Ingress “farming” is a treat and I took advantage of the opportunity.

I was listening to the conversations taking place on both sides of me. On one side it was the stereotypical “What do you do?” International community conversation and on the other they were discussing a few topics. One of these topics was music festivals. I have had a lot of fun at music festivals but I also have some views that I share with facebook friends rather than the wider world as it would see me ostracised.

As I drove home from the meeting above I got a text message and felt that it would be bad. I read it when I got home and left the group. I won’t be told how to behave by strangers. I won’t be judged in a town by a group of people who hike and do via ferrata. If you participate in both of these sports there is a good chance that you will appreciate my company. When I am in the mountains one of the cameras I carry around is out but my mobile phone is in a pocket until I get to the end of the activity or the car.

I am a member of the Geneva Ingress Resistance as well as the Lausanne Ingress resistance. As a result of this I have access via Google Hangouts to at least 120 people in the Lac Léman (lake Geneva) region. These people are unique. What makes them stand out is that they’re always looking at their mobile phones and when you see the entire group is silent it’s because they’re “glyphing”. I like to spend time with these groups because we eat crisps, drink wine, eat ice creams, hike and do other activities. These people meet because of the game but you see that there are deep friendships that have benefited from mobile phone use.

I love the paradox. The paradox is as follows. Every user is in the Google Plus community, every user converses with other players in Google Hangouts and every player meets other players in the real world. The mobile phone is a link between those who are not present and those who are present. In effect whether you converse with these people from a computer, by mobile phone or in person changes little.

Last week at the end of one operation to field over Yverdon with blue fields and another operation to field another city a phone call was made via google hangouts and we all answered and put the phones to our heads for a conference call. Instead of the mobile phone isolating people it is doing the opposite. It is uniting people.

Look at the conventional social interaction. When two normal people call each other the people you’re with are isolated for a period of time. It’s the same when people in face to face conversations start talking about mutual friends, certain types of activities and more. Sometimes the conversation that two conventional people are having is more likely to isolate the people you’re in the same physical location with. More often than not small talk is frustrating because A) you don’t know whom they’re talking about and B) you don’t know the context. As a result small talk is less polite than mobile phone use.

I love the mountains and I enjoy via ferrata and hiking when it’s with the right people. I also enjoy spending time with ingress players. With these three groups of people I feel that I can be myself. I spend no time acting and performing. They appreciate the real me.  When I go to towns and listen to normal people small talk I get bored and I feel isolated. It has nothing to do with the mobile phone and everything to do with the difference in interests and passions.

If we don’t have the same interests and passions then don’t blame mobile phones for our lack of conversation. Either we find something we are both passionate about or we co-exist in the same space without talking much… Sometimes the inability for people to accept silence when they are not alone encourages others to be alone.

Social networks and project collaboration

Jacques Yves Cousteau’s documentaries would have done well in the social media age, especially if the social media age moved away from profit and money. Imagine that social media companies such as Facebook and twitter were Not For Profit Organisations and imagine that instead of having advertisers they had sponsors. The quality of content and discussion would increase and the time wasting element that so many people worry about would be gone.

Alexandra Cousteau, grand daughter of Jacques Yves Cousteau is on twitter and she shares articles related to conservation and related topics. Not for profit organisations such as MSF and UN organisations such as the United Nations Development program all share content and articles that provide their followers with valuable resources for bringing conversations forward.

Social networks should be seen as anything but a waste of time. Their purpose would be to find clients, to find collaborators and to find mentors. In having these three resources finding new projects, employment and collaboration opportunities would increase. We would eliminate viral videos, tabloid content and keep high value, high return on investment prospects. Rather than PR and marketing specialists flooding our timelines with emotional but useless content we would have high value content worth responding too.

The aim would be to demonstrate our strengths in a high brow environment where conversations are possible and encouraged. From the time I was ten years old I have lived in the international community, between school, where I worked, university and more. As a result friends are distributed around the world rather than driving distance. Imagine that this network stopped seeing social networks as tabloid as commercial and a waste of time and instead saw them as useful work tools.

For me this is nothing new. When I was in London when twitter was in it’s infancy and when facebook too was in it’s infancy I saw both social networks as networking tools. I met hundreds of people via both networks and I continue to do this today but at a less efficient pace than I would like.

The aim would be that for every four or five days of social media use I would get two or three in person meetings with people to discuss projects and collaborations. I would also like to be inspired and encouraged to work on specific projects.

The Game Ingress by Niantic labs is a perfect example of what I would like to see within a professional context. Through the game Ingress I have met people in Paris, Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva to mention just a few. If I go to Paris on the 22nd I can meet agents. If I follow mission days or First Saturdays then I can meet people in a number of cities. I mention this because although ingress is not a professional network it is still a project network. It requires geographically based teams to collaborate to achieve goals. If we could distribute that kind of network for documentary production and collaboration then employability and familiarity would both benefit.

It’s a shame that with all of the communication tools we have today we see social networks such as facebook and twitter as PR and marketing tools rather than collaboration and relationship tools. I have web designers, musicians, camera operators, writers, journalists, photographers, fundraisers, financial analysts and digital analysts as friends on Facebook and yet it is hard to see what people are working on. Imagine social networks that are optimised to benefit from your existing network.

 

The Bellevaux Via Ferratas

This year I went to the Bellevaux Via Ferratas in June and the area had been damaged by the intense storms and rain from weeks of rain. I went there on Tuesday and the via Ferrata des Cascades was different. For a start there was no water in the cascade. As a result those who were canyoning down the waterfall were dry. It was also much quieter and the sensation from the via ferrata was different.

The section with the slight overhang.
The section with the slight overhang.

Water is dynamic, constantly moving and making noise. As a result it provides a sense of motion and danger. When water is not flowing footholds are easy to find and your focus can remain on the via ferrata. The Cascade is my favourite beginner via ferrata. The conditions I think beginners will appreciate are: 1. Easy access. Within 200m you are at the via ferrata ready to climb and 2. Proximity to the ground. This via ferrata does climb quite a bit but you are never that far off the ground so vertigo will not add badly to how exhausted you are by the end of the path.

This via ferrata has two thick beams you cross over the river and one nepalese bridge (one cable for feet, one cable per hand, fourth cable for the carabiners. There are short bits where you are climbing vertically and then one section where you negotiate a slight overhang. After this you have two more beams and the VF is finished.

The Village of Bellevaux an hour's drive from Geneva.
The Village of Bellevaux an hour’s drive from Geneva.

If you have energy left over you have two more via ferratas to enjoy. These are the Via Ferrata du Chatelard and the Via Ferrata “La Grotte De Cristal”. These are harder via ferratas. In the case of Chatelard the estimated completion time is about one hour and fourty five minutes. I completed it in over fourty minutes so I am not a reference. This via ferrata starts by ascending diagonally for a bit before continuing horizontally a bit further. Hand holds are not always easy to access and there are certain portions where you have an excuse to dyno (propulse yourself) to grab the next hand hold.

The Chatelard is physical but the views of the valley are nice. As you can see from the picture above you have a nice view of the town to the right if you have your back to the cliff and a nice view of the valley if you look to the left.

View from the Nepalese bridge
View from the Nepalese bridge

The Nepalese bridge offers a nice opportunity to admire the landscape. After this point you soon reach the combination point where the medium and hard via ferrata combine. From here you continue towards an excellent tyrollean. I tried it with both the red and the silver devices. With the red device I went fast and only had to pull for the last metre or two. With the silver one which I tried twice the ride is very fast. You hit the wooden ramp running. With a friend we did this twice each.

I strongly recommend that you try the tyrollean if you’re with a group of people that have the required equipment. It’s a highlight of the day.

When I do the third and hardest part again I will write about it. I tried it one or two months ago and did find it fun. I may write about it this weekend.

 

La Cascade Via Ferrata in Les Diablerets

This year I finally got to see the Via Ferrata of the Waterfall (La Cascade Via ferrata) in Les Diablerets Switzerland. As a child it is a place where we would walk as children and experience the freezing river water. A few days ago I went for the via ferrata.

It was amusing to be with friends rather than family. As I know this landscape so well the effort felt minimal. The Via ferrata is a nice medium via ferrata. I’m tempted to say that I found it easy but that’s going to mislead people and I don’t want them to get stuck. According to the geotrails post this is a demanding VF because of the overhanging bits. That’s where doing one or two VF a week pays off.

If I was to do this via ferrata alone I would park at the Montée mecanique of Isenau, take the egg up to the top and then walk down by the lake and towards the Glacier 3000 lift. From there I would cross over to the via ferrata on the other side. Access to the via ferrata is quick and the path is easy. The Via Ferrata has some vertical moments but most of the time you are moving laterally. You have a very nice view of the valley below. 1050206After you have completed the principal part of the via ferrata you come to a clearing where rock climbers have a number of routes. I recommend keeping yourself attached to the via ferrata cable. Two people slipped on the soil and it’s a useful habit always to stay attached when the option is available.

From the flat section you climb a little and then head back down through a split between two rocks. From this point you can head down and consider the via ferrata complete or you can have fun and try the tyrollean. The tyrollean will require you to walk along some slippy rocks to where the platform is. Here you can attach yourself and enjoy the first tyrollean across to the other side. It’s not the fastest tyrollean I have done but it’s the first time I pass under a waterfall and that is fun. When you get to this side you detach, walk down for a short distance and can cross over again. The second tyrollean is slow and there is a good chance that you will have to pull yourself across as I did.

At this point you can follow the path down towards Les Diablerets along the river and back to where the car is parked.

 

Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.