“I don’t like heights”
I don’t know what it is about heights, but there is something that doesn’t sit right with me, or at least didn’t for a long time. I learnt to ski from an early age and spent a couple of weeks every winter with my family, hurling myself down snow covered fields at breakneck speeds trying to outdo my brother. Well, if winning isn’t important, why keep score?
I am ready for the challenge!
“But!” I hear you cry, how can you ski since you were in nappies and not like heights. Well it comes down to my confidence in myself and the equipment that I am using. You see skis feel totally normal to me but a climbing harness and hanging on by your fingernails to a rock face just seemed like madness, hence the fear. “Well just get out there and get used the harness then!” you reply. Well that is what I did.
I live in Mayrhofen and up until a couple of years ago climbing was the domain of the crazy-brave and the foolhardy. Then the powers that be built a Klettersteig (aka. Via Ferrata) which for the un-initiated amongst you is a cable that runs up a climbing route and is fixed to the wall every 10 feet…anyway I am digressing, you have Wikipedia too!
My wife has grown up in the Zillertal and climbing for her is a normal part of life. One day she asked me to join her and her parents at having a go at this Klettersteig and since they had built several with varying grades of difficulty she proposed that we should start on the easy one first.
Yes, I am nervous!
“Nervous?” Yes you could definitely say that. My knees were shaking and my hands were aching from hanging on as if my life depended on it, as in fact it did (well sort of!). I tried my best not to look down too much and instead looked ahead and at what my hands were doing and before long I had almost forgotten were I was that is until I was reminded every now and then, “Look at that stunning view!” “I’ll take your word for it” was my usual answer. “Keep going!” the sergeant majors voice inside my head would keep saying and slowly I carried on, trying my best to ignore the stunning view just over my shoulder and before long I was at the top.
Yes, I did it!
The one and a half hours had just flown by, maybe as I was concentrating so much and now here I was standing there on a path, writing my name in the book that is kept there and drinking a large slug of Schnapps from my Father-in-laws hipflask that he seems to have at every occasion! I had done it. No, I had not conquered my fear of heights in one climb but I had taken the first step and the Klettersteig had allowed me to do so. I wasn’t chomping at the bit to do it again straight away like people always talk about in motivational speeches but I felt a sense of accomplishment, next to a growing thirst! A thirst that could only be quelled with the cooling nectar that is Zillertal Beer! Hey presto! There’s even a mountain hut at the top where you can actually enjoy the view without hanging on, it’s called “Gasthaus Zimmereben“.
This could become a nice local and I suppose I have earned my drink. Just one question, “how do you get down from here?”