So, did we get cold enough last time then? No?
Well you’d better grab a blanket for your knees. Up to now we haven’t ventured far above sea level, but I can’t let you off quite that easily. Today we’re heading up into the mountains..
The landscape here, close to the border with Finland, reminds me so much of the European Alps with their flat bottomed glacial valleys. A road cuts across the valley floor. Around about the point it disappears into those trees we start a rapid rise, negotiating a series of steep hairpin bends. Reindeer herds are reputed to wander these slopes but, sadly, not that day.
At the end of the road, an area of cleared ground. The comfort of the car must be forsaken here, for this is the place where we get out and walk. We’re advised to dress for the arctic, ho ho. I took them at their word. Leggings under fleece lined trousers. Two pairs of socks. Four layers of shirt, sweatshirts and fleece under a well padded coat. Scarf, gloves and a distress purchase beanie from the hotel that morning. I am no lover of hats, but this last item turned out to be an exceedingly good call. Oh.. and no contact lenses either. The previous day it had been so cold the lenses felt as if they were curling up and freezing on my eyeballs. Not a pleasant experience I can tell you. Things righted themselves quickly enough once back under cover, but on a bleak mountainside with no shelter for hours? Not worth the risk.
Kitted out with crampons. You know how much I’ve been wanting a pair of these! Not with the spikes that I’d need for the Precipitous Bank, these had studs. But perfect for crossing the mountain terrain and providing a little extra grip on paths often embellished with a gleaming coat of ice.
This was our destination, a chasm in the rock
As we progressed further along the path the crevasse became deeper, until..
Our Austrian guides proudly told us that the bridge had been engineered in their home country. It’s relatively recent: opened in the summer of 2011. Given the impossibility of access any other way, the whole construction was lifted in by helicopter and lowered gently into place.
But nothing, nothing prepares you for the view should you venture out over the abyss..
It’s so difficult to capture scale in a still photograph. From the bridge to the floor of the canyon there’s a drop of 153m (502 ft). In summer water flows freely from the top to the bottom but now the waterfall is almost completely frozen.
In the warmer months there is bungee jumping from the bridge into this incredibly narrow space.
Er.. no, me neither. But there are videos on the internet if you’re brave enough to watch. Just google Gorsabrua.
Our guides preparing a barbecue lunch before the hike back to the road. And very welcome it was too.
With darkness beginning to close in again your intrepid blogger, notwithstanding upholstered to the proportions of the Michelin man, was starting to get seriously cold.
On our final day of exploring, sunrise and sunset merged into one giving a glorious pink sky for all of the ‘daylight’ hours. By this time we hadn’t seen the yellow orb itself for five days, only the very tops of the mountain peaks basked in its light. Photography is so challenging in these low light conditions but the shots do capture the atmosphere, I hope.
Would we go back?