Via ferrata became popular during the First World War, not for recreational purposes, but to aid troops move around the Dolomites. Nowadays there are over a 1000 via ferratas in the world, majority of them in the Alps, all of varying length, difficulty and the “scare factor”.
So my ass was kicked by the mountain I least expected it from. 4810m, how hard can it be, right? Wrong!
“50% chance of success” – they said. “Naaaaa” – I thought.
Brief intro just in case: Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and EU. Also commonly known as Monte Bianco (for Italians). Or as a Death Mountain or White Killer (for pessimists). The reason for the later nicknames is quite obvious: although the mountain is relatively “low” (compared to Himalayas, or Andes for example), the number of people trying to climb it is quite high, resulting in a higher death rate, proportionally. Now enough with statistics. If you ask me: it’s not the mountain, it’s the joyfully crazy people that flock to Mont Blanc that top up the scales. If you stick to the “Normal route” and just plan to move your feet – you should be fine (unless avalanche hits and swipes you off those feet – about that later). But people there are nothing but normal, and so they leave this route for us, amateurs, and go up the mountain in some batshit crazy ways, and go down even in a crazier ones.
So this trip starts something like this. You wake up with sunrise and head over to this place called Snoscooterutleie As. And after some training with a mannequin on how not to die in weather conditions of -30C° surrounded by polar bears, they wish you good luck and off you go. But not before you put on an arctic suit, thermo boots, a helmet and start resembling a cosmonaut. You’ll recognise me by a pink backpack.
The Maasai are semi-nomadic people and build their villages wherever they please. As a rule, the village has a courtyard in the center and is surrounded by fence along the perimeter as a protection from wild animals. The houses are build from tree brunches, mud, grass, cow dung and human urine (the liquid is needed as a binding ingredient). Yes, by women. Women are also responsible for supplying water, collecting firewood, milking cattle and cooking for the family (big news). Men, on the other hand, are responsible for herding livestock and building fences to provide security from wild animals.