TORQ bars are not scared of heights!
Tig Tay is the young lady who takes loads of photos during the Beastway events at Eastway cycle circuit during the summer months. She also writes race reports for the mags. In fact I'll never forgive her for that story she submitted to Cycling Weekly about a pair of pants (someone else’s) getting caught in my rear mech during an important race. I still get taunted to this day - mainly from folk at the Eagle Road Club. Anyway, she's redeemed herself for the time being by forwarding these great words and breathtaking pictures for us all to enjoy. Over to you Tig:
”Oh dear, what's happening to the TORQ bar? With its roots firmly established in Mountain Biking, it became the official energy bar of Sky TV’s Masters Football and now Mountaineering? Well, at least the ‘Mountain’ part is still there, even if the two wheels aren't!
Having managed to get my hands on a couple of boxes of yummy banana bars at Beastway this year, I decided that the perfect outing for them would be on our Austrian Kletterstieg trip in August.
For those who are unfamiliar with the word, Klettersteig is the German version of the Italian Via Ferrata, which translates, literally, as ‘climbing path’. First, a bit of history: via ferratas, or 'iron ways' were originally built to aid the movement of military alpine units during the First World War, but now they're used by hill-walkers and scramblers to access mountain routes which would normally be the preserve of experienced rock-climbers and mountaineers. Nu-skool routes (much harder than the old-skool ones) via ferratas are popping up all over Europe and Austria has its fair share of them.
The routes are all protected with a fixed wire and ascent is sometimes aided by the use of ladders and/or metal pegs called stemples. They are also graded from a difficulty point of view, taking into account the steepness and exposure on the route, where ‘A’ is the easiest and ‘E’ is the most extreme.
Right then, enough of the background stuff and on to the trip. My partner, Michael and I flew off to Friedrichshafen , where we were picked up by group leader Alun Davies, editor of Adventure Travel Magazine and trip organiser, and our guide Alan Hinkes (who, incidentally, is Britain's foremost mountaineer and who has summited twelve of the world's fourteen 8,000m peaks). Joining us were four other guys from various parts of the UK. Ahead of us were seven days of full-on klettersteig routes.
Coming from the flatlands of London, the trip was a bit of a shock to the system, to say the least. No amount of training in the gym would have prepared us for it. We hit the ground running. Having been picked up from the airport, it was a fast drive to our first port of call where we parked the van and immediately hiked up to a mountain hut for our first night's kip before an early start the next day. Early breakfast, 90 minute walk in to the foot of the route and then about 4 hours 'on the wire', followed by a 2 hour walk out. We did, sometimes, get a very welcome helping hand from the cable car or chairlift, but that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the week.
It was, however, well worth the effort. We bagged five routes by the end of the trip, including the route to end all klettersteig routes: Der Johann. Never before have Michael and I experienced a route like this. Steep, incredibly sustained with breath-taking views over the Dachstein range and graded a rather hair-raising ‘D’. Definitely not one for those suffering from vertigo. Thank God for the cable car down though. My legs were all a-wobble by the time we got to the Seethaler Hut (2740m) some four hours later.
The TORQ bars really came into their own during the course of the trip. Being vegetarian kinda limited me to what I could take from a pack lunch point of view, and Michael is lactose intolerant so cheese sandwiches were out of the question for him. In any case, there was only so much cheese and ham sandwiches the both of us could stomach. Having one of those TORQ bars tucked into the outside pocket of the rucksack meant that you could have a quick bite whilst you were still on the wire and therefore able to graze throughout the route, keeping you going throughout the day.
So, well done Matt, for coming up with something so small, yet so effective and incredibly yummy.”