Le sommet du Gelas, 3143m (Nice, Day4)

The alarm went off at 4:30am this morning and I enthusiastically got out of bed. There was a mountain to climb before my flight tonight! I came downstairs to find breakfast laid out for us, including freshly brewed tea and coffee. Thanks Nicole !!

It was a long, windy drive to St Martin. Past small villages and even a gorge. At 7:35am we were off, with clear skies, the sun rising behind our mountain range and cows grazing on the path. The target was Mt Gelas – finally i would break the 3000m line on this European trip after many an attempt. Continue reading

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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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