Mt Pilatus

Can’t remember how this came up but there are two topics – Mt. Pilatus and Jungfraujoch. The overriding emotion with Pilatus, for me, was fear. The overriding emotion for the other one [next post] was desolation.

It was difficult getting a vid which captured the sheer terror of the cable gondola to Mt. Pilatus but this has some elements of it, though we don’t get to look down into the valley:

The terror was not going up but down after the summit:

Even that vid doesn’t show the sheer drop below the cable car. Most cable cars are a certain distance from the ground, running across pylons which follow the hill down. With Pilatus, each pylon is on top of a mountain peak so you are literally thousands of feet above the rocks below in the valley, suspended from a single cable [when I was there], going from peak to peak.

When I went in 1989, I was with a group but the Swiss workers who filled the gondolas did so with all my companions and then I had a gondola to myself and it wasn’t one of these modern, silent ones, it was battered metal and perspex, plus there were not the silent wheels in the vid – at the pylons, the connection to the cable jumped up and down as it went over.

Plus that day a gusting wind had come through on the way down [not so much up to the top] and being superlight, my gondola was swaying sideways about 4′ each way and the whole cable was jumping about a foot and a half midway between pylons. I could hear the attachment groaning and then the cable suddenly stopped and the gondola was bouncing around up there.

I knelt down on the metal floor but there was nowhere to hang onto – the couple of times I’d gone to the side, the gondola would tip. So I was praying like crazy the rest of the way down.

It was not fun – I recall it was about the most frightened I’d been in my life. Never again.

On the other hand, rack rails or cog rails have never worried me overly, they seem like bobsled runs, close to the ground:

4 comments for “Mt Pilatus

  1. August 23, 2017 at 15:22

    The most striking thing I remember about Mt. Pilatus is that little chapel that sits up there. Must be a tough hike for the congregation.

  2. Mark Matis
    August 23, 2017 at 18:17

    Just think of the entertainment value if one were to stand astride the rails of the cogwheel about half way up the mountain and roll a YUUUUGGGE paper-mache “boulder” down the track at the on-coming train…

  3. August 24, 2017 at 09:27

    Hiking in the Alps recently, I rounded a corner to find that the path, a scant 50cm wide, was bordered on one side by a cliff and, on the other, by a steep scree slope falling to a sheer edge above the valley floor, some 400m below.

    What astounded me was that other hikers were merrily striding along in single file while chatting to each other, seemingly oblivious to the drop (I, meanwhile, was clinging for dear life to the safety rope some kind soul had attached to the rockface). To add insult to injury, several local guidebooks describe this route as ‘facile‘.

    Your post was most opportune since I’ve been pondering the question of fear ever since – I do suffer from a degree of acrophobia, true, but is it really irrational to be afraid in a place where the slightest stumble could result in a very messy and undignified end?

    And is it nature or nurture that enables some people to tread such a path as calmly as if they were walking on the beach?

  4. August 24, 2017 at 09:32

    Possibly better to proceed with some alacrity but be ready to jump.

    In Russia, this was so with ice. To tread ultracautiously meant being upended two or three times. To stride with purpose with straight back and bent knees was better then, when you felt the slide start, you could spring.

    I just watched how the locals did it.

    And no, it’s not wholly irrational.

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