But that is the last thing on my mind right now. With each precarious step, the bridge bounces and swings beneath my feet. Every tenuous stride forward is accompanied by an equally tenuous glance at my safety harness. “Is it locked correctly? Can it really support my weight? And why the hell is this wasp harassing me right here, right now, of all places?!”
As I fight to suppress the repeated rushes of acrophobia, I rehearse deep breathing exercises from my Ironman training days. Eventually, I manage to calm myself down enough to cross the
bridge aerial death passage. “Hell of a time to conquer your fear of heights,” I think to myself, as I clip my carabiner on a small metal ring drilled into the rock and scamper to a marginally wider ledge on the side of the mountain.
In Saguenay, adventure-minded souls climb to a height of 250 meters, clinging on to only the scanty hand and footholds, and often times simply balancing on their tippy toes high on the mountainside. While climbers are provided with a steel safety cable along the way, there is absolutely no artificial assistance. The entire climb is done purely by balancing from one metal ring to the next. It is a high-intensity sport that is definitely not for the faint of heart, as safety carabiners have to be alternatively attached and detached every few steps along the entire route. One single slip could mean certain death so it’s important to remain focused. Conquering the Via Ferrata requires arm and core strength, stamina, flexibility and a good dose of strong nerves. Not having a fear of heights is definitely a plus as well!
Our group starts out with 11 would-be climbers but is quickly culled to half as five individuals change their minds after the first 20 meters of climbing. A wise decision for many, as it turns out. For a fleeting instance, I admit, I also entertain the idea of backing out. Am I really going to be able to suppress my fear of heights? “What the hell,” I think to myself. “Just do it.” I decide to press on, drawing on my recent experience successfully navigating a tree top obstacle course to inspire me.