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Wednesday, July 25
(...continued from previous page)
courtesy PChen
A little platform
Soon the route arrived at the crest of the ridge, where it starts a long route up the very narrow spine of the ridge. The rock was superb, with virtually nothing loose and with lots of good holds. It was quite steep in spots, and extremely exposed in others, but I found it was possible to climb it pretty much without touching the wire.

Every so often there were small little platforms or ledges, where we could take pictures or swap positions on the wire.
Reaching the crest
Climbing the crest
Towers and Slots
courtesy DBoyd
Steep but sound
Reaching another platform
Steep but sound
courtesy PChen
Climbing a pinnacle
Daryl's good form
Climbing the crest
A break on the ridge
Down low, we had let a slightly faster couple - a German woman and a man from New Zealand - pass us. Now, as we were climbing some of the steep sections on the ridgecrest, we noticed that we were catching up to them. Daryl and I, the first two in our group, crested a small rise in the ridge and saw a steep section ahead that seemed to be giving the German woman a little bit of trouble.
A little slip-up
It was a steep bulge in the ridge that involved a short couple of vertical or maybe even slightly overhanging moves. The woman was struggling on this section, holding onto the ferrata wire and holding her body tight in to the concavity of the rock. Suddenly, her grip on the wire slipped, and she plunged down about 10 feet, glancing off the rough dolomite before being jerked to a stop at the next lowest stanchion by her ferrata gear. She was ok, although appeared a bit dazed.
A belay on a ferrata
I had never before seen anyone actually fall on a ferrata. It was a bit jarring, mentally, to see it. In fact, witnessing any alpine accident is always a bit eye-opening, since one goes for so long with nothing particularly exciting happening, and one's brain simply comes to perceive normality even in the midst of extreme conditions. This type of non-event feedback, as my mountaineering book calls it, can be dangerous, and seeing an event in the wilderness brings the concept of thinking and acting safely sharply back into focus.

Witnessing a fearful event also generates fear. Uncannily so - I felt it myself. Suddenly the day did not seem so cheerful. Suddenly there was a little pit in my stomach. I knew, rationally, that the objective danger hadn't changed, but my perception of it certainly did. I was now fearful of the little pitch where the woman had fallen: would I be able to make that section? Would I, too, fall there? Jenn was still a little ways below us, out of sight behind a less-steep section of rock. I was glad she had not witnessed this incident, as she had been a little wary of doing a grade-5 ferrata in the first place. There was no sense, I felt, in having her mindset put in a bad place for no good reason.

The German woman was thoroughly spooked by the incident. She had a small gash in her elbow where she had struck the rock on the way down, but other than that she seemed ok. She was unable, however, to muster the energy or courage to get herself up past that steep pitch, even with the help of a gentle-sounding Italian man who had been climbing the ferrata directly behind her.
courtesy DBoyd
Andrew on the crest
Fortunately, her New Zealand companion, who was further up on top of the step, had brought along a section of climbing rope. He was now busy paying it out to her, and in short order, he belayed her up past the difficulties. By this time, Jenn and Pu had caught up to us, and in fact there was a small traffic jam forming behind us.
Once the couple ahead of us had moved on, Daryl and I warily approached the spot where she had fallen. It was steep - probably the hardest moves so far on the climb, but as I engaged the rock I found that it wasn't at all impossible, and I more-or-less was able to climb the section with only a modicum of extra effort. I wondered what had made it so difficult for the German woman; perhaps her choice to hold her body close to the rock on an overhanging section had burned out all of her upper body strength.
Climbing around an edge
Having now completed the section with much less difficulty than I was expecting, I was again reminded of how easily an obstacle can look so much more daunting when your mind has been conditioned to think it so.
Jenn looks back
Fortunately, all of our group managed the rock step with aplomb, and we continued up the Punta Anna ridge, now close behind the couple. Our immediate destination was Punta Anna itself, a high point along the much longer main ridge which continued to the north.
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