Via ferrata: Andorra
Via ferrata is a type of alpinism that presupposes overcoming of rocky parts of the route (both vertical and horizontal) by means of specially equipped metal constructions that help to manage the impediments at higher speed with less sufficient energy wastes than in case of ordinary alpinism. The route sectors are equipped with safety rope or chain that stretch all over; they are fixed to the rock by means of steel anchors. The foot rests are natural (rock) or artificial–steel bails, pins or small corrugated plates. Certain parts of the root present metal ladders.
In summer Grandvalira (Canillo sector) offers several options.
1. Via Ferrata Canal de Grau (is located within 20 minutes walking distance from Roc du Quer; the length is 350 meters; the average duration –1 hour; the way back goes over Grau path and takes 10 minutes; the length of the slope is 90 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1685 meters, at the finish—1745 meters; the level of difficulty – requires high level of physical training);
2. Via Ferrata Raconc (the length is 400m, the average duration—1 hour 45 minutes, the way back goes over Grau path and takes 35 minutes, the length of the slope is 210 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1510 meters, at the finish is 1720 meters; the level of difficulty – requires high level of physical training);
3. Via Ferrata Canal de Mora 1 and Canal de Mora 2 ((the length is 400m, the average duration—1 hour, the way back goes over the path and takes 25 minutes, the length of the slope is 200 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1580 meters, at the finish is 1780 meters; the level of difficulty – medium);
4. Via Ferrata Directisima (the length is 500m, the average duration—1 hour 45 minutes, the way back goes over the path and takes 40 minutes, the length of the slope is 350 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1560 meters, at the finish is 1910 meters; the level of difficulty – requires high level of physical training);
5. Via Ferrata Vias Cable 1 (is located within 30 minutes walking distance from Roc du Quer; the length is 80 meters; the length of the slope is 80 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1475 meters, at the finish—1540 meters; the level of difficulty –V+);
6. Via Ferrata Vias Cable 2 (is located within 30 minutes walking distance from Roc du Quer; the length is 60 meters; the length of the slope is 45 meters; the height above the sea level at the start is 1495 meters, at the finish—1540 meters; the level of difficulty –V+).
The payment is not presupposed
Necessary equipment: rock climbing body harnesses, rip-stitch lanyards of safety belts, hoisting straps, clasps, crash helmets, gloves and special boots with spikes. All equipment can be rented. It is necessary to apply the touristic office in Canillo. The services of attendants are also available.
Mountaineering. Artificial climbing walls: Andorra
As for rock climbing – this is a sport that you can do from early childhood because for children climbing is almost as natural as walking. A great place for taking classes is at a climbing wall, where the level of physical difficulty varies depending on the level of preparation. Training on a climbing wall provides a lot of opportunities. On one hand, you’re working almost all the muscle groups: arms, legs, back, and abdominals. As well as improving your fine and large motor skills by relying on your fingers. This allows you to relieve any stress in the joints that you may have because of working long hours at a computer.
The constant task of moving up and down, as well as left to right to reach for the next handhold and change your foothold, increases the joints’ mobility radius, giving a good stretch of the tendons and muscle fibers.
After regular practice, the back straightens and any bad posture is likely to go away, as training on the climbing wall also helps to get rid of scoliosis. Strengthening the vestibular apparatus eliminates motion sickness in transport, and finally, rock climbing is a qualitative cardio-load that improves the heart, helps oxygenate the body, strengthens the cardiovascular system, helps normalize blood pressure and improves sleep.
On the other hand, regular training helps to improve our coordination in space and balance, attention, and memory. The climber constantly needs to conduct an analysis of the route: where to put an arm or a leg, on what part of the body to transfer weight to, what movement to do next, whilst also remembering your decisions and assessing their consequences – and all this in just a couple of seconds.
Part of the exercises on the climbing wall are based on repeating the route of movement along the hooks exactly after the instructor. Those who didn’t follow do some push-ups and squats as a “punishment”.
As we gain experience and train the muscles, the route becomes more complicated (for example, it is forbidden to touch hooks that differ in color) and more complex goals are set.
And, finally, the climbing wall is a great place where you can fight your fear of heights (more typical of adults than children). The victory over the fear of heights increases self-confidence and you are less likely to give in to panic in the future.
Classes with children are built on the same principle as with adults: first, you need to warm up your muscles and then begin the basic training – climb the route following the directed colours, for example. Then, follows the work on concentrating your attention and memory in combination with physical activity. After the basic training – breathing exercises and stretching.
An interesting fact – children before puberty don’t produce lactic acid. Therefore, the feeling of muscle pain is not familiar to children.
Contraindications for climbing – joint diseases and heart failure.
Information that surely will interest women: mountaineering can be an excellent solution for losing weight and simultaneously working out the body: burning fat and strengthening muscles. Rock climbing burns a lot of calories – in an hour you can really get rid of 1000 units. Of course, it takes a lot of patience, especially at the initial stage. But the result will justify all efforts: climbing will help in a fairly short time to adjust the shape of the hands and back, as well as tighten the abdominal and buttock muscles.
It is always worth remembering that during classes you can fall down. For complete safety, it is necessary to work only with experienced monitors who will teach you how to climb safely and will always be nearby to help.
Before classes, it is not recommended to eat a lot or drink strong tea or coffee. It can cause destabilization of blood pressure and provoke dizziness. A full lunch or dinner can be eaten half an hour after the workout.
Climbing can become a real passion, even the meaning of life. Every climb is like an art. This process is so absorbing that communication with the outside world is lost. Climbing is freedom, which you can enjoy endlessly. The only condition: an obligatory part of rock climbing is partner insurance. Therefore, next to you should always be a reliable person, to whom you trust your life with for a while.
In Andorra there are both indoor and outdoor artificial climbing walls (rocòdrom) – some of them are paid, some are free. Among the covered climbing walls are BlocCafe, Rudrome de Caldea and the sports center Pas de La Casa Centro Deportivo. Open climbing walls are located next to Caldea, as well as in Ordino, Encamp and Canillo. The climbing wall in Ordino is especially popular, during sunny days you can always find keen climbers there.
“There are some lovely places in Andorra for mountaineering that are well worth visiting”, – says the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest from both sides, Andorran resident Cathy O’Dowd. Find her interview to all-andorra.com here