On the ropes
Tomorrow we can do the Kanzelwand climbing route!”
“Dad, look at the Ifen - tomorrow’s going to be the perfect day!” I’m sitting with my daughter, having dinner. I turn to face the window. “See? Red sky at night!” “Yes, and...?” - “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight! Tomorrow we can do the Kanzelwand climbing route!”
Ah of course. I know this old farmers’ saying. The red sunset really is gorgeous. Tomorrow should be a wonderful day. Just to be sure, I check my smart phone too, and it agrees: Kleinwalsertal, sunny, 26 degrees. “Are you really sure you want to climb it?” “Yes, of course I am, on my climbing taster course the mountain guide said that you can do the family climbing route from the age of eight, and I’m 8 years, 2 months and 6 days old!” Well, there’s no arguing with that logic.
An hour or so later, we are heading up the mountain in the Kanzelwandbahn lift. It’s a beautiful summer’s day and at 9:30 already very warm. We arrive at the mountain station and head off towards the Kanzelwand summit with our rucksacks. Around 20 minutes later, we are at the start of the family climbing route, where we stop to put on our equipment. I check the harness is sitting correctly, double-check the fasteners are all properly closed - next, the climbing set. After her taster course (run every week by Bergschule Kleinwalsertal), Emma knows exactly how everything fits together, and makes sure that I do everything exactly the way Samuel the mountain guide showed her a few days ago. I get lucky, and get it all right! I’m still about to get an introduction to securing the rope, though. “Dad, you have two carabiners on your set – you have to hang them facing different ways on your rope and it’s really important that only one is unhooked
and the other one is securing you. Never unhook them both! That can be fatal!”
But I know there is a crossing coming up that might challenge us. I say nothing, however, and Emma also manages this tricky spot with flying colours, and just a few metres further on we come to the highlight of the climb - the big rope bridge! Three wires are stretched about 20 metres above a small ravine. One for the feet, two a little higher up to hold onto. I notice that Emma is finding the task quite challenging, and even for me it’s not that easy to keep my balance on the rope But Emma manages in masterful style, even asking half-way across the bridge if we can stop to take a selfie. “No, Emma, I’m not going to take a photo, I’m quite happy to have both hands on the rope.” After the bridge you can take a short breather before it gets a little steeper for the last few metres towards the summit and the end of the climbing route. When we make it to the small plateau at the summit, Emma is grinning like a Cheshire cat - “Dad, that was amazing! Did you pack any
food?” Yes of course I packed some snacks! And we inhale them right next to the summit cross.
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