From cruising to climbing

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic, not to mention varied. It started off with me pitching and photographing a number of lightweight tents which will be hitting the shops next spring. The resulting pictures will end up in Camping magazine at various points next year. Then it was off to Gloucester for a pleasant and not at all enigmatic trip down the Gloucester Sharpness Canal on board the river cruiser MV Edward Elgar.

This week saw me in Switzerland’s Engadin St. Moritz, researching summer outdoor activities. Turned out a little tricky right at the end of the season, and before I went I was wondering whether snow would put the kybosh on everything. In the end I had a fantastic hike in Switzerland’s National Park, and saw loads of chamois and ibex, plus one or two marmots. One day was bitterly cold, with flurries of snow, and so the programme was re-jigged so I went for a ride on an e-bike – like a normal bicycle, but with an electric motor which doesn’t so much propel you along without any effort on your part, but gives you a useful boost when you need it. And I ended up doing one of those adventure rope parks, including a 100 metre zipwire across a river. Talk about a leap of faith!

Clive Tully having a Cliffhanger moment

Clive Tully having a Cliffhanger moment

The highlight was climbing a new via ferrata called La Resgia, on the outskirts of Pontresina. A via ferrata is a protected climbing route which, assuming you have the correct equipment, you can clip into and climb safely, even where the steep bits – what climbers call “exposure” – are terrifyingly sheer. I actually didn’t think about that anyway, as most of the time I was concentrating on not falling off, and summoning every last ounce of strength in my arms as I tackled a couple of overhangs.

Via ferrata are graded for difficulty from one to six in Switzerland, and this one was a four, so I think I did pretty well getting up it without any problems. As it was, my guide was the man who designed and built La Resgia, so I was in good hands. My camera did part of the route in his hands too, so I’ve ended up with some very nice evidence that I really did it!

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