Wednesday, July 25
(...continued from previous page)
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 another platform
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
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.
[ Dolomites 2007 home
page | July 14 / Intro
| Sun, July 15
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| Fri, July 20
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| Wed, July 25
| Thu, July 26
| Fri, July 27
| Sat, July 28
| Sun, July 29
| Where did we drive?