A man from BUILTH Wells has admitted he ‘couldn’t believe what I had just accomplished’ after completing a daunting climb up the world’s tallest artificial wall.
Simon Turner raised nearly £4,000 for charity through the climb, which saw him tackle the Diga di Luzzone – a Swiss dam that has posed a 540ft vertical climb for adrenaline junkies since that a German manufacturer installed artificial sockets and bolts in the early 1990s. .
The dam is located in the Lago di Luzzone reservoir in Ticino and offers breathtaking views of the Alps from the top. However, the climb is anything but scenic and is considered by enthusiasts to be the Everest of climbing.
Simon, 34, completed the climb in just over five hours, alongside his friend Bobby Garret, on Saturday June 4, raising £3,856 for Latch, a Welsh children’s cancer hospital in Cardiff.
“The first glimpse of seeing the dam, I pretty much thought ‘what am I doing here, I can’t do this, it’s beyond my limits,'” Simon said.
“We started at 9.30am and had been climbing in the shade all morning, but for the last two pitches it was the hardest, with overhanging pitches we were going to be left at the mercy of the hot sun.
“That’s also when the fatigue and exhaustion kicked in. Each length was approximately 115 feet and there were five total lengths to climb.
“After five grueling hours of climbing, epic falls, cuts, bruises, tendon tears and honestly times when I wanted to give up because I had nothing left in me, we made it to the top.
“I honestly couldn’t believe what I had just achieved. It was very difficult for both of us technically and physically. We did something that very few inexperienced climbers could do. I was amazed and shocked that I had just climbed the dam.
“We both stepped over the top railing and hugged each other with pure happiness and relief. I managed to climb it all with nothing but willpower, support from friends and family, and plenty of painkillers.
Simon had embarked on his training, which was interrupted by Covid-19 when he was due to climb the wall for the first time in April 2021. He climbed outdoors in the Elan Valley in nearby Rhayader and at the climbing center in Llangorse, near Brecon, as well as at a climbing center called Boulders in Cardiff, in addition to various places in Gran Canaria, where he often travels for work; he is employed by OES, an offshore oil inspection company.
He’s used to challenges, having previously served in the military with the rifles, which included front-line action in Afghanistan, but it was there for him in terms of toughness.
The Swiss Dam has become a popular spot for adrenaline junkies since manufacturers installed a line of over 650 artificial holds and bolts in the 1990s. The course now covers a vertical distance of 165 meters, running from the base of the dam to the top. The climb is to be done as a sport climb, in multiple pitches, with a ladder needed to climb the first 20 feet of the wall as the lowest holds were placed several feet above the ground to deter casual visitors from climbing on them .
Simon thanked his family and friends, as well as a couple he and Bobby met about 350 feet from the dam. “I couldn’t have had a better partner than Bobby to do this climb,” said Simon.
“I would also like to thank Philippe Baselgia and Maika Deflorin for your help. We met this amazing couple the same day, about 350ft on the dam, they were also rock climbing. It’s super random to run into someone 350 feet from a vertical wall, but they got us through the last 200 feet.
“Llangorse Climbing Center were brilliant with the knowledge and help they gave me.
“Finally, I would like to thank my son Jackson for being my biggest supporter and my best friend, my wife Mahvish for supporting me throughout. Also, thank you to my mother Janice for being there, to my other mother Dolareen and my father-in-law Tariq, I couldn’t have raised this amount of money without your help.