I used to watch fear factor and whenever they had the obstacle courses suspended high in the air I thought that looked like fun and I would love to do that. But I never realized I COULD do that. So naturally I really wanted to go when I saw the pictures at the entrance to the pool.
Getting tickets was interesting because the girls at the entrance spoke practically no English but since I had previously reconnoitered I managed to get a ticket for 1pm and knew to be there half an hour in advance for safety instructions and get a harness. Thankfully the guy doing the instructions spoke excellent English, and the instructions were easy enough to follow:
- always clip in.
- Always use only one hand (so you never accidentally unclip both your safety lines).
- On red marks clip in directly.
- On yellow marks remove your roller thingie from the clip on your harness, fit it over the cable and clip in ONE line to secure it on the cable.
- Check that your landing point is free. Then, and while I followed these instructions I can’t help wonder if this is good practice, clip the second line into the CARABINER of the first line – and jump.
After I demonstrated my understanding and proficiency by walking around the training course clipping and unclipping he sent me off by telling me the order of the first three courses: green, blue, orange.
- Please recheck your ID(s).
- If you are showing a private album, check that the "Retrieve Photos From" option is set to "User's Private Album" and that the Authorization Key is correct.
Essentially these are training runs that get progressively harder and higher with variations on the themes of ladders, rope bridges, high wires, and zip lines with landing nets. Probably the biggest challenges on these courses were: getting over your fear of heights if you have it, the generally low hanging safety cables (to accommodate the minimum height of 140cm I suspect) and landing in the nets at the end of the zip line, more on this later.
Fortunately I had brought water because even in the shade of the trees it was hot, especially wearing long jeans. Lots of people did this in shorts but there were a few place I am glad I had covered legs and in one place I wished for kneepads. Also in the process of grabbing the water I found out that if you wanted to go to the restaurant you would have to get out of the harness, so another win there.
With all the warmup out of the way, now for the real fun! I may not have all the obstacles in the right courses so here a best guess:
The red course starts with a long rope ladder and because clipping in and out on a rope ladder would be suicidal, it comes with a fall arrestor line you have to pull down. This was only labeled in Italian so it took me a couple minutes to work out but fortunately there was a dad with his 8 year old ahead of me giving me plenty of time. The highlight of this course was probably a set of individual footholds like hangman’s nooses although one could have used a short zip line instead. Hard on arms and coordination and being more than 140 cm tall helps immensely.
The black course had a Tarzan rope swing. The swing was actually quite easy, especially if you put your feet on the knot at the end of the rope. However clipping into the rope is a challenge because the rope is heavy and you can’t easily support yourself while clipping in the second carabiner. The subsequent landing on a coarse rope net and clipping in are easy and natural … until you realize the way out is UP and that the net you are clipped into stops 4m above ground. This was to me the scariest point because I realized I was getting complacent. The course ends in a super long zip line and here I had my only major mishap: I hit the net backwards and didn’t manage to grab on before sliding back on the zip line, ending up stuck and needing rescue. Clearly this is common though as one of the attendants just came and threw me some rope and then pulled me to the net.
At this point I was exhausted and should probably have stopped, especially because I was told that the yellow course was the hardest, but since I wouldn’t ever get the chance to do this again I braved it anyhow. True to promise this course is hard. A zigzag horizontal ladder, a cable loop horizontal ladder, a net/cable car, a high rope walk with a support that looks like a trapeze – I tried that and it hurt – but is actually a suspended version of a balance pole – works like a charm that way, another high rope walk but with loop obstacles you need to climb through. After all this you end up on a platform that’s a dead end. After calling for help it turns out there is a descender that you can grab and attach to your harness. And then you need to step off the platform. This is extremely daunting because the anchor point is at least 1m away from the edge of the platform and it’s clear you will swing sideways. In the end it’s not as bad as it looks but you do need to push yourself away from a tree trunk.
In summary: the best 20 euro spent this trip and the best 2h spent in a long time!
Went to the pool after to cool off but that was really all that pool is good for on a Sunday afternoon as you will be lucky to find a lawn chair or any shade at all.