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This bustling Alpine village offers a wide range of holiday activities ideal for families, novices, keen amateurs and professionals – turning every stay into an unforgettable experience.

We’ll show you the ropes!

The mountains are shrouded in fog on this September day when the Rock & Safety Days course kicks off. The climbing team on the Brun­nistöckli via ferrata can only see the next rung or peg ahead; the view down into the valley is denied them. But while most of the time anyone would be sorry to miss out on such a spectacular panorama, some of the partici­pants don’ t mind on this occasion: “Perhaps it ’s not such a bad thing I can’ t see how far down everything is,” jokes one woman. Eight people are taking part in this three-day Rock & Safety Days course, which Engelberg-Titl is Tourismus offers free of charge to holders of a Guest Card. Participants receive assistance from an experi­enced guide as wel l as mental training. Daniel Perret, a mountain guide at Prime Mountain Sports GmbH, explains: “Rock & Safety Days are intended to give climbers professional training so that after three days they are able to tackle via ferratas independently, to prop­erly assess the risks and their own abilities, to stay on task, and have fun while doing so.”

Simone Hug (27) from Hinwi l has already climbed several via ferratas, but has always been in the company of experienced colleagues. When she realised that she would like to be able to master a via ferrata by herself she took the spontaneous decision to register for a Rock & Safety Days course. The oldest participant in this edition of the course is Kurt Hägi, aged 66. “I often come to Engelberg,” he says, “and I have climbed every via ferrata apart from the one on the Fürenwand, which I have always marvel led at but never dared climb.” The group is a mix of men and women of all ages from 20 to 66, of beginners and more advanced climb­ers, but the goal of every participant is to be able to climb up the Fürenwand on the third and final day of the course.

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The Fürenwand is a climbers’ classic. Steep and exposed, it is graded K4 to K5 for d if f iculty (K1 = easy; K6 = extremely dif f icult) and has 756 metres of ascent. Not everyone is up to tackling this awe-inspiring route.

But the three-day course star ts gen­tly – on the Brunnistöckli. This via ferrata is graded K2 and there are many oppor tunities to take a break. “The Brunnistöckl i is ideal for learning to climb,” says mountain guide Daniel Perret. “It isn’ t too difficult, there are several bridges, and it lets participants have the exper ience of ascending a peak. It also gives the guide an opportunity to see how the various participants move across the terrain and where their strengths and weaknesses l ie.” Despite the damp weather, al l the participants manage the climb up the Brunnistöckli, some of them with more of a struggle than others.

On day two, the group heads for the Rigidalstock. This medium-difficulty via ferrata (K4) pushes three of the partici­pants to their limit, and they decide not to attempt the Fürenwand the next day. “It ’s extremely problematic to withdraw from the climb halfway up the Fürenwand,” says Daniel, “so anyone who isn’ t sure shouldn’ t attempt it. Usually, the participants can see for themselves when they aren’ t ready, be­cause they get vertigo or they realise they aren’ t quite f it enough.” But if the guide can see that a participant is physically and men­tally capable to take on the Fürenwand, of course he encourages him or her to do so.

The next thing on the agenda for the five remaining climbers is a mental training session with Claudia Müller, who coaches the skiing aces of the future at Sportmittelschule Engelberg. Now, in the evening of day 2, it ’s her job to mental ly prepare the five participants for the Fürenwand. “You can really look forward to tomorrow,” she says. “The view across Engelberg is sensational.” But sweet promises alone aren’ t enough, of course. Claudia also takes the par­ticipants through a range of different mental exercises. It becomes clear what an important role the mind plays in al l our activities – be it climbing or any everyday task. If someone approaches the via ferrata with a mind full of doubt, they won’ t get far. And, as Claudia points out, “Mental training is not a magical cure. It is an exercise that has to be practised repeatedly.”

Her words, the exercises, and il­lustrations of what the Fürenwand via ferrata is like seem to have the desired effect. “I had a good night ’s sleep after the mental training,” Kurt Hägi tells me. “I woke up feeling certain that things would work out.” On day three, the mountain guide selects Kurt, as the most experienced climber, to go first up the via fer­rata. And Kurt ’s confidence is not misplaced: he and his four fellows successfully tackle the Fürenwand – this time in glorious sunshine.

Kurt explains how he felt going up: “I still felt some trepidation, but with each metre I climbed I felt more and more certain I could do it – even as the bottom got further and further away.” He was fine until he reached the final section with its vertical ladder, and then he did falter a little. “But I took a deep breath and remembered Claudia’s words – ‘You can do it ’ – and then I took each rung as it came. And there I was at the top! It was a beautiful feeling.”

Kurt will always have fond memories of the first time he climbed the Fürenwand, which surely won’ t be his last. Simone Hug also felt great throughout the course and especially during the highlight on the final day. “I had no prob­lems on the way up. For one thing I completely trusted the guide, and for another I felt capable of completing the climb.” Her participation in the Rock & Safety Days was an unforget­table experience, and it also had a practical application: just four days after completing the course Simone independently took on a via ferrata for the very first time. And that is precisely the goal of the Rock & Safety Days!

Zu den Rock & Safety Days


Engelberg Mountain Guide

Dorfstrasse 34
6390 Engelberg

+41 41 638 02 57


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