Switzerland Obwalden Nieder Surenen Alp
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A quick trip this week to Switzerland and the Alps. Hey, it’s summer break time in Europe, and I’m celebrating with a visit to Engelberg, an alpine valley two train rides south (about 1.5 hours) from Zurich and then, later this week, a meeting with Victorinox AG, the gear company that makes the original Swiss Army Knife.
Today, I climbed the Furenwand wall in Engelberg, a 2,000-foot limestone face. The goal was to test some via ferrata gear from Petzl and Black Diamond as well as film an episode of the new “Gear Junkie Show” for Demand Media and Trails.com. I was testing a new helmet camera, the ContourHD, as well. Hope to get some of the footage online soon.
Our Swiss guide on Furenwand called the (pretty sick) exposure a “good view.” My vertigo on the slippery ladder rungs with a few hundred feet of air beneath disagreed. Despite admittedly awesome views — including paragliders cutting swoops in midair beneath our feet — I was more concerned for a pitch or two here with just what was in front of my face. Reach. Pull. Step. Don’t look down!
After climbing, we got on the mountain bikes. A one-hour downhill brought us past waterfalls, alpine chalets, down steep trails, across rushing alpine streams, and to high places the storybook girl Heidi could've called home.
Overall, it was a great time on the rock today climbing “Euro style” on the via ferrata. A couple more images below. Now, back to relaxing on “summer break” here in the Alps. —Stephen Regenold