A fear of mountain trails – a healthy concern

Walking down from the Tour D'aï

In Switzerland you grow up walking on mountain paths that are narrow and steep. One one side you have the mountain and on the other you have a steep slope. I remember having a fear of mountain trails once or twice in the German part of Switzerland. I think it was in Kandersteg. You walk along a path high above a lake. If you fall and slip in the grass then you may be unable to stop. You could fall off the cliff. Fear or concern are normal in such circumstances.

A week ago we went climbing as a group of friends in the Jura near Vallorbe. One person was scared. I was not there to witness this person’s fear but a year ago I did accompany someone who was afraid. I slowed down to that person’s speed and provided a hand when needed. I also provided moral support. These trails are an integral part of Via Ferrata. When I was still a child I did slide on the way up to La Dole but stopped within metres of where I fell. I climbed back up with no problem. Ironically last week someone did slip when we were walking back at night. He did not slide far. Luckily the person who was afraid missed this incident.

Walking up to a via ferrata
Walking up to a via ferrata

If you want to do the Via Ferrata du Rocher de Naye you walk on narrow trails with a steep drop on one side. Experience keeps us sure-footed. Experience tells us that if we do slip or fall we can recover. We know how to avoid slipping and falling in the first place.

Danger of falling
Danger of falling

The reality of the mountains is that we do hear of people slipping and sliding to their deaths when hiking in the mountains. In summer the stories of people killed by avalanches are replaced by the stories of older hikers sliding to their deaths. The dangers and threat are real and it is for this reason that experienced hikers need to help less experienced hikers. We need to keep those we are with both safe and comfortable. If they are uncomfortable we must turn around and find a more appropriate route.

Dangerous scree path
“Beware, dangerous corridor, you are committing yourself under your own responsibility.

When you complete the Rocher de Naye Via Ferrata you can either go down with the train or you can hike down via this route. This route takes you via a scree field where rocks are loose. You could slip and slide or you could loosen rocks that hit people below you.

Walking down from the Tour D'aï
Walking down from the Tour D’aï

Either you can walk up to the Tour D’aï or you can enjoy the Via Ferrata. If you enjoy the via ferrata you must keep in mind that you are walking down an alpine trail to get back. These are marked by the blue and white trail markers. There is a sheer drop to the side of this trail. Wearing the right shoes and being sure-footed is key. The landscape is beautiful from this vantage point but experience is key to staying safe.

 

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