What it's really like to cross the world's scariest bridge
13 January 2014
THE Titlis Cliff Walk in Switzerland is Europe's highest suspension bridge. It also sways ... and you can see through it. As scary activities go, this one tops the list.
IT'S sunny and the snow is glistening. I feel pumped, excited … and a little bit nervous … maybe a lot. I'm here in Switzerland. Tick. I'm here at Mount Titlis. Tick. I'm about to cross Europe's highest sky bridge, the Titlis Cliff Walk ... Tick?
Mount Titlis bridge will scare you witless But back to the start. I arrive into Engelberg on a sunny morning and fall immediately in love with the picturesque town. Whoever said love at first sight doesn't exist doesn't know what they are talking about. Snow-capped roofs on cutesy cottages and sumptuous hotels are scattered around the resort town located in the canton of Obwalden in Switzerland, making for a picture-perfect moment any way you look.Engelberg looks like it belongs in a fairytale.
Most people stay in Engelberg to ski or for snow fun. I guess - if you had to categorise it - you'd put the Titlis Cliff walk under 'snow fun'. Mount Titlis is very high at 3,238 metres, and the only way up is by cable car - three cable cars in fact. It's so high that you can't get up there in one single ride and you need to change twice to get to the very top. World's scariest bridges in pictures And this is where you'll find the terrifying cliff walk. Of course it's not the first thing you see. There's food and wine and even a Movenpick ice cream bar, so it's easy to take your time enjoying all the mountaintop luxuries on offer. Getting ready to tackle the bridge.
Then … eventually … there's the walk. The view from the bridge is meant to be nothing short of spectacular, so there's no backing out for me. Scary and spectacular on the edge of a mountain in Peru The bridge itself is a short walk from the mountaintop complex, and I'm not the only one taking my time and sussing out what's ahead. When I do get to the starting point I freak out a little at the sight of some kid swinging the bridge while others are walking on it. This thing moves!A bunch of brave people walking towards the scary bridge.
The bridge was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Engelberg-Gerschnialp cableway over Mount Titlis in central Switzerland and opened to the public on 7 December 2012. I'm here a year later and can only imagine how many other people have swung that bridge. It was designed as a high-adrenalin activity and I'm sure feeling the adrenalin pump through me. Seeing as it's a clear and still day there's no wind factor to take into account (so no swaying brought on by wind gusts), but there are enough brave kids doing pretty much the same thing.To avoid swaying choose a moment when there are not many people on the bridge.
The Titlis Cliff Walk had been built to withstand snow and wind, it can hold 500 tonnes of snow and it's meant to last for 1,000 years. So it's as safe as they come, even with the swaying. I pick my moment - when there is hardly anyone else on it - step onto the bridge and take a few steps. I feel pretty good until I realise I've managed five metres … the suspension bridge is 98 metres long. And then I look down. The 'view' if you look straight down while on the suspension bridge.
Through the metal bars I can pretty much see everything under me, and that view is not so pretty. I look up and focus on slowly breathing in and out and then begin to walk. And that's where it gets better. Once I'm on the bridge and have seen the worst (looking straight down is the scariest moment of the whole experience) I begin to enjoy the experience. The views are unsurpassed and my terrifying walk across the bridge becomes a 'pleasant stroll'. Taking a 'stroll' along the Titlis Cliff Walk.
'Walk of death' in Spain I start enjoying the views and have no trouble stopping to admire the surrounding scenery and take photos and get to the end point feeling pretty good about the whole thing. The end point is a fixed tower, so there's no movement to worry about, and I spend a good 30 minutes here taking pictures and admiring the views (OK, maybe also avoiding the walk back). The beautiful views are worth it.
Eventually I have to do the return walk, and although I pick a kid-free moment, when I'm half way back a few kids run onto the bridge and start swaying it. The suspension bridge is a lot scarier when it sways and the views fade away as I focus on holding onto both railings. A woman who looks like she might faint from fear glides (in slow motion) past me holding the railing to the left with both her hands like there's no tomorrow, not lifting her feet at all.The bridge look longer that it actually is.
Luckily the kids have a mother who eventually tells them off (perhaps after seeing the gliding ghost and I) and I get back to the starting point without too many distractions. Mission complete. Next stop? Movenpick Bar ... again. Head to myswitzerland.com for more information and myswitzerland.com/rail and raileurope.com.au for Swiss passes. The writer travelled as a guest of Switzerland Tourism All is well that ends well.