via ferrata tight rope walk in picos de europa

Climbing To The Top – Via Ferratas in Picos de Europa

Are you ready to hang from the side of a cliff? Have you always wondered about the thrill of rock climbing? Are you itching to take risks like never before? Welcome to Via Ferratas in Picos de Europa!

Christian and I decided, after a tense year of changing COVID regulations and travel restrictions, that we wanted to explore somewhere within Spain and do something special for our 3-year anniversary. We chose the spectacular mountains of Picos d’Europa and were not disappointed! After a quick search, we found ‘Via Ferrata’ experiences with Potes Aventura and took a chance. These are activities very similar to rock climbing but suitable for beginners with some added help. Let’s just say that I won’t be forgetting this anniversary for some time!

We arranged to meet the via ferrata guide early in the morning and walked to the starting point at the bottom of the climb. We were kitted up in our harness, hard hat and gloves with a quick explanation and that’s it, we were ready to get going.

The difference between traditional rock climbing and via Ferrata’s is that the rock has been adapted for via ferrata’s to have small, metal bars protruding from the surface creating a small step. These steps stack up the rock for a ladder effect, enough for one foot to step on. To the side of this is a long, continuously connecting metal rope that you attach your harness to as a safety measure. This will catch you (hopefully) if you slip off the step and fall. Read more on this topic here.

via ferrata iron bar ladder climb

At first, the route seems easy and effortless. As time goes by however, you get further and further away from the ground as well as experiencing muscle fatigue in your biceps and quads as they get more and more tired… gradually the fear increases so much that the effortless feeling you felt at the start is quickly replaced!  

Every via ferrata is different as they have to adapt the routes to the shape of the rock face so I can’t guarantee that you’ll get to try this if you decide to book. The climb we chose had an optional tight rope walk if we really wanted to push ourselves and of course, we said yes! This is the moment I poo’d my pants.  

Luckily, only metaphorically speaking, but still. Stepping out onto nothing but a metal wire and a significant drop was absolutely terrifying but also absolutely amazing! I was so scared to start the walk and I had to keep reminding myself to trust my equipment. I couldn’t look down at my feet either or the fear of heights would grow to be so intense that I was doubtful I would finish. Then, even after I’d made it to the other side, I still needed to watch Christian cross the tight rope and for us both to finish the climb up to the top of the rock.  

I think by this point I had used absolutely all of my muscle strength and I struggled to continue climbing. The guide tried to help by pulling me up from my harness and I tried to change my climbing technique but nothing was working and I was in danger of getting stuck on the rock. Christian, who was second in the group order and subsequently climbing below me, then offered the best solution with a tactical butt grab and shoving me up the cliff for the last few steps. It sounds saucy but have you ever lobbed the neighbours’ estranged football back over the fence?  

What anniversary is complete without a few butt grabs after all?! If you have a boyfriend to hand, it’s certainly advisable to take him with you in my experience.

via ferrata climbing in picos de europa

As soon as you reach the top, the feeling is indescribable and just so worth all the effort, not to mention the reward of stunning views. After a few minutes to recover and take in the scenery, the guide walks you back down to the start to continue your life with a new, lifelong experience logged in your memories. I will never forget the feeling of walking along that tight rope! Overall, this activity is not to be missed, whether you’re a solo traveller or celebrating an anniversary. 

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