Day 3 of UK Lake DIstrict Astronaut Leadership Experience – The Via Feratta

If you think the morning of Day 3 sounded exciting from my last blog wait til you hear about the afternoon. To be honest the afternoon of Day 4 was really what the whole thing was building up to…. We headed to The Via Feratta.
http://www.honister-slate-mine.co.uk/via_ferrata_at_honister.asp

This is a unique experience where you can go rock climbing (pretty dang high up!) without needed to be technically knowledgable. Through a series of installed supports and ropes to clip into you too can be a rock climber on the face of a mountain!

So I have to admit even though I was one of the Leadership Leaders on this Experience I was not exactly jumping for joy over the idea of hanging off the side of a mountain! Here’s my thing… I am a TOTAL klutz at times on flat ground and trip and fall… when I get high up I have this fear that I will be a klutz up there and well you can imagine where my mind goes from there! All that said I was bound and determined to challenge myself and take myself out of my comfort zone as well.

As I mentioned in my previous blog about apseiling/rappelling we never push anyone further than they are comfortable so especially on a day like this we supported folks in whatever decision they made. That said all but 1 of the group made their way up to the Via Ferratta (and I have to say that the one person who chose not to go had already pushed way past comfort zone in the morning with the apseiling/rappelling!)

First challenge was to walk across a suspended bridge that was pretty darn high up and swung quite a bit. We all made it across there and started to get a bit acclimated. Then we climbed down a ledge to scale the side of the mountain which was a lot more challenge and required a bit of climbing skills. Not to worry it’s all incredibly safe. We were always clipped in with 2 separate lines and our mountaineer guides made sure to take really great care of us. I will admit that this part was definitely a bit unnerving for me – especially when you looked down! That said once again we all made it through this part of our challenge!! Go Us!!! Oh and I forgot to mention – to add to the challenge it was incredibly windy and cold. The wind actually was enough to push you around a bit and the cold made it challenging because you wanted to wear gloves but they made the clipping in and out more difficult.

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Next came a decision point. There were 3 options: 1 was to go across a single wire with arm holds across the open expanse which was the most challenging (especially for people who don’t love heights), the second was to climb up the side of the mountain to the very top (still very challenging but less so than option 1) and the third was to decide you were done and head back down to the Cafe at the bottom of the mountain (and you didn’t even have to go across the crazy bridge to get there). It ended up being about an even split… but only between the first 2 options! I was so proud of everyone to decide they wanted to keep going in some way. We all enjoyed our journey to the top (even if it was really tough at times) and felt such an enormous sense of accomplishment when we got there.

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Luckily there was a cave at the top which offered us some shelter while we waited for the whole group to regroup because it was really cold, windy and snowy up there! It was beautiful however! We got some pictures at the top and then scurried down to the bottom because we were all ready for hot tea to warm up!

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What an incredible day!

That night we discussed this day in great detail and how it effected all of us. I think it’s safe to say it was a great learning experience for everyone and not just in a climbing realm. We were a bit sad that it was our last night together though so we all hung out and talked until a little later than perhaps we should have 🙂

One more blog to go about the event and I promise it won’t take me as long to post the next one 🙂

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One thought on “Day 3 of UK Lake DIstrict Astronaut Leadership Experience – The Via Feratta

  1. Hi Michelle,

    Great to relive the weekend here.

    You’ve captured the spirit and the actuality of the experience here. I’m still shivering from the cold wind!

    Like you, heights are not my preferred realm as I suffer from intermittent vertigo and I’m never sure how such situations are going to effect me. For those who are not blighted by vertigo, the sheer wall of irrational fear that can overwhelm you in such situations is like a tsunami.

    I think the openness with which people shared their concerns about their limitations was really helpful. There were no egos on display, in fact that is what has struck me about Ken and the other astronauts I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They are very results focussed, but work around the methodology that the work isn’t done until all the team have successfully completed the task, so there are only words of encouragement and support within the group. Negativity would compromise performance.

    I think this team ethos was significant in giving people the confidence to go beyond their perceived limitations. Chris and Steve, our specialist guides from Mobile Adventure embodied this spirit as well, and a quiet word here, and acknowledgement of achievement there, made all the difference.

    These are lessons I’ll try to redouble in my daily life in education and working with adults with learning difficulties.

    Look forward to future adventures and the Leadership Learing which comes with them.

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