Via Ferrata de Pielle (Nice, Day2)

It’s not every day you have so much adrenaline running through your veins that someone comments on your eyes being greener than usual. The title gives it away … this morning I was introduced to Via Ferrata (an “iron road” along an exposed route).

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I had this idea that people doing Via Ferrata are relatively safe because of the harness and safety lines they wear – and that they’d never fall very far even if they slipped.

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Let’s just say that the risk of my plummeting to my death was low, but, depending on if and where one fell, the risk of injury could be high. The trick being not to fall! Especially at the top of a strictly vertical ascent (since it’s quite a few metres to fall before the safety catches you … and there are quite a few iron rod hazards on the way!)

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It’s quite an amazing route. See here. You begin below the village of Pielle. Then you cross a bridge, work your way up the rock before crossing back again to ascend over a rock, through which a tunnel has been carved for cars to pass through. All the while looking down into the valley and towards the village of Pielle (and it’s ruin).

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There were lots of challenges and excitement. Overhangs (again my comment about the safety line!), fish nets, a cave, large steps across gaps, etc.

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Of course, Alain decided I had everything in hand and then took me on the advance section of the route. It was a long overhang ascent and I was definitely pumped by the top (but had no intention of letting go :P). Two guys started following us up but had to backtrack and head up the other route instead.

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Below is the moment where my fear of heights almost got the best of me (single-line walking). It was ok when it was short and I was facing the wall. But terrifying when it was long, there was a wind and I was staring straight down into the valley. Yes, I realise this makes no sense – it was the safest place to fall!

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Thanks Alain for taking me !! And Bon Appetit! We earnt our lunch and beer.

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After lunch we did a circuit loop above Monacco. 500m of ascent and descent with an old fortification to view as well. What a great day. And tasty food afterwards (of course).

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La Baou de Saint Jeannet and La Grotte des Carranques (Nice, Day1)

The weather forecast and sky were looking ominous this morning. The original plan was to go caving in the morning and climbing in the afternoon, however we reversed the plan. There were supposed to be afternoon storms and JC insisted the rock was currently dry.

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La Baou de Saint Jeannet is the rocky mountain sitting above St Jeannet – a beautiful stone-housed village. A steep climb up and we were at the crag. The clouds were looking like light rain, which was enough for another change of plans. Instead of doing the multi-pitch to the top of the mountain we simply did several climbs at the first pitch – so we could make a quick escape to the cars if necessary!

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I was challenged on the climbs but made it to the top of each one with some helpful tips from below. Having built up an appetite we devoured a massive Plat de Jour and beer as the clouds parted.

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After lunch we caved through La Grotte des Carranques. Stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, etc as well as squeezes and clambers.

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Oh and did I mention dessert with every meal ?!?! What a first day! How could tomorrow top this?