Feel the Ferrata Fear

Overcoming fear. There’s a lot written about that. My bookshelf sports “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. The trouble with feeling the fear on a via ferrata or rock climb or bungee jump is that it can simply immobilise you if you allow yourself to really experience it.

I face a slight overhang on a via ferrata at the Joch Pass in Switzerland.

Now, it must be said that, when rock climbing, the best place to fall from is an overhang – no scraping skin and bones and teeth down rocks. Falling any place on a via ferrata is not good. The cord is not as elastic as a rock climbing rope and the metal rungs salivate with a hungry, body-piercing leer.

I know what is said about via ferrata falls: You’ll survive but a helicopter will have to carry you out. Apparently the force at rope’s end wreaks havoc on one’s body. (Don’t even think about hitting the rungs.)

Not all via ferratas have such vicious footpegs as this one at Engelberg.

With images, possibly incongruent with the risk I face, running amok through my head, I cling quivering at the bottom of the overhang.

The BB senses something amiss. “Can you do it?”

That’s a dumb question, I think. If I could have, I would have. The fact that I am dithering, indicates I can’t.

Walk along the ridge on the right to the highest point. Return along the ridge and take another (easier) route down.

On the other hand, I have to do it so I suppose the answer is, yes I can.

The words I can give my mind a solid platform to step onto, in contrast to the whispering mushiness of “What if I can’t hold on when I clip? (Never mind that there are two clips.)What if my arms / hands / any other body part, actually involved or not, cannot hold on?”

But now the I can is there. And if it applies in the future that surely means it applies now.

So I can do it now.



Ah, but what if ‘I can’ only applies from a fixed point in the future? That means (relief) I don’t have to do it now. I can just wait until I morph into that fearless or brave via ferrataer. Soon I will arrive at that point. There is comfort and relief in that. I am hurtling across each second towards being the person who can.

It’s just a matter of waiting.

But if I soon will be that person, then she must already be in me, so I can access her now. (Do I have to? I prefer waiting.) In fact, I already am that person.

Meanwhile, out of my head, The BB, displaying one of the many reasons I married him, switches  from loving-husband-having-fun-with-his-wife to loving-husband-with-wife-in-extremis PLUS reassuring-and-soothing-coach-assessing-the-situation-in-a-millisecond.

“You’ll power through.”

And back to my quaking body. Power? Oh, yeah. Right.

“You always have in the past.”

Oh. Well…That’s true.



I am enveloped by myself, the person who can do this.

And so, I do. I feel the only-slightly-diminished fear and do it anyway.

We can choose at any time to step into the self who can, whether that’s a previous version of ourselves or a future one. Try it today. Let us know how you went or tell about a time you already did this.

Getting There and Having Fun                                                                                Get on the cable car at Engelberg. Stay seated at the first station. Take a cabin to Trubsee then a lift to either the Titlis or Joch Pass level. For Joch Pass, stroll alongside the lake.

Boat hire is 10 CHF/hour.

On the far side is a restaurant and chairlift to Joch Pass. Hire bikes and scooters here. As we glided up, we watched people beneath us haring down the mountain paths.

At the top, have a snack at the restaurant or a drink of chilly water from the trough. Lots of hikes span out from here, plus there’s a chairlift down to another lake. The hotel restaurant on the shore offers trout from it. Apparently, the beef is tasty too. Lots of families hang out there hiking, swimming, fishing. It is accessible by car from another direction. The trip from Engelberg to Joch Pass cost 42 CHF each.

The lake moved and glistened like a lamé dress in the distance – deep, rich green-turquoise. (Can anyone help me out with what that colour is called?)

14 responses to “Feel the Ferrata Fear

  1. Some beatiful images- love the flock of birds. Having done alittle bit of walking in the Himalayas I sympathise!

  2. Amazing photos and a great description. You get a real sense of what the via ferrata was like. You’ve made me want to climb it.

  3. A stuning set of photos and thoughtful words to echo your thought processes. I’m not sure I could, but then it’s something I’ve never really thought about before let alone tried.

  4. Christina Schlegel

    Nice narrative – I love via ferrata tours! The Dolomites have so many options.

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