St Hilaire du Touvet is a place I have always thought of as one where in Septembre there is an adventure film festival. What I found out on Saturday is that it has two interesting via ferrata. There is an easier one which you can explore as a novice and a more challenging one you can try if you like to overcome your fear of heights and fragile looking rock ascent.
I tried the latter and enjoyed the challenge. At first you park your car at the summit before walking down for half an hour. You meet a fork and start heading back up towards the start of the via ferrata. The path is not as clearly marked as it could be so we ended up scrambling up what is a river when the rain is falling. It was dry on Saturday.
The first part of the via ferrata is easy. You have a vertical climb with some contact with the rocks. There is some loose material so wearing a helmet is useful. There is a split where you can choose whether to do the hard or very hard via ferrata. For the easy one you go down to where the waterfall has dug itself a small pool. Beware the slippery rocks. After that I don’t know what the via ferrata is like as I did not explore this option. As you go to the left so you start a more challenging bit of the via ferrata. You climb for a few minutes before getting to a beautiful crack in the rock at the base of which is an overhang. The overhang is a physically challenge. It’s also a nice way to overcome your fear of heights.
I passed the obstacle suspending myself from my arms. I might as well have a little fun right? My feet were floating in mid air. The next part is hard (extremelly difficult by Via ferrata norms). You’re at least 20 meters off the ground and you’re heading straight up. The rocks do not look that solid although there are a lot of hand holds and foot rests should you prefer to use these than the metal path. The ascent is hard and there are few places to rest. You go from one side of the crack to the next and back.
There is a nice resting platform at one point, to the side from the via ferrata. Here you can rest for a bit, gather some strenght before the last 30-40 meters of ascent. From here you traverse to the left and reach a ladder. It faces outwards so you’re looking at the landscape. As if this ladder wasn’t enough of a mental challenge you have the reveral to get back on to the rock. This is not a natural thing to do. From this point on the via ferrata is normal as you make your way up to the parapente take off point.
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