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Family Via Ferrata

During the summer we decided the children (with the exception of our youngest son, John, still just aged 5) were old enough to dip our toe in the world of Via Ferrata! Chamonix offers a relatively new and exciting route, Via des Evettes, accessed from the top of the Flegere lift, that allows people with no climbing experience at all to adventure into the high mountains. We decided to go with our fantastic guide, Johanna, but it is possible to go it alone and the trail is extremely safe. Although the Via is recommended to children from the age of 12, the age restriction is ha guideline only and the child's height is as important. Johanna was happy to take our 10 year old daughter, Amelie, also which was fabulous news as she was so keen not to be left behind with Daddy and John!

To access the route we took the Flegere lift up and then walked for about 20 minutes to reach the starting point. The walk is a very pleasant hike and not at all difficult, so the family, including our youngest, took part in this section. Whilst we wandered through the high alpine we took the opportunity to learn more about the flora and fauna. The children loved picking the sweet fruits from the multitude of bilberry bushes along the route, and Johanna helped them to differentiate between the edible fruit and the similar looking poisonous fruit!

Upon arrival at the start of the Via route we all got decked out in our via ferrata harnesses, gloves and helmets - all of which can be hired from the town centre very easily. Once appropriately dressed and our harnesses checked we waved goodbye to Daddy and John and clipped ourselves on to the first section of the cable which runs the full route.

The first section involved three fairly vertical cliffs which took us to the halfway point. Whilst it took a little bit of time to get used to the clipping in and out action required to move from section to section, it quickly became second nature, even for our youngest daughter, and we could truly enjoy the absolutely spectacular scenery around us!

There is no doubt that the climbs are fairly steep and do require a degree of physical fitness but knowing that you are completely safe and attached at all times makes the entire process so much more enjoyable!!!!!

By the time we started on the second half of our adventure we were all confident in the climb and after a short break to enjoy a well earned snack (as always when setting out on an adventure with children it is imperative to remember to bring snacks and water along in a backpack as you certainly build up quite the appetite and clearly keeping well hydrated is essential).

The second half of the Via des Evettes consisted of the bridge Pont de Chamois and other vertical hiking sections. It didn't seem possible for the views to get any more spectacular but as we climbed higher they certainly did not disappoint. The girls in particular absolutely loved the opportunity in this section to cross the first small bridge and our little gymnast was even brave enough to hang off the top cable - something which I could certainly not be coerced into doing!!!!

As we reached the final hike sections, somewhat surprisingly, it was our eldest son, Oliver, aged 15 that started to get slightly anxious about the final section of the route which culminated in the 50m Himalayan Bridge. He has always been nervous of heights but found the rest of the route no problem at all. However there was something about looking over the edge of the final section that filled him with dread. The girls, on the other hand, could not wait to cross and clipped on with sheer excitement!!!

Daddy and John had by this time hiked round to the meeting point and were there to provide the required level of moral support! We all crossed the bridge with a massive feeling of accomplishment and it was so nice to see the girls really encouraging their big brother with whoops of 'you're doing great' and 'well done'!!!

Having completed the challenge it seemed the perfect place to enjoy a well earned picnic lunch before returning back to the Flegere lift to return home. Guidance suggested the full round trip should take between 3-4 hours. In reality the whole experience probably took closer to 4hr30 but it was an absolutely phenomenal experience for all and we will certainly be returning next summer to go again!

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