vertical-connect 2017: Friday evening, Saturday and summary

Friday evening

The Friday evening is an integral part of the event, allowing people time and space to meet, chat, network and generally let their hair down. The evening kicked off with a dinner, accompanied by Dani Vonwiller’s photos of the day being projected, followed by general socialising, over by a fire bowl and a bar the lads from Vertic put up for the event.


Saturday’s topic was Connections and Connectors. The first speaker was Renè Comin from Italy talking about the work they are doing on the Bosco Verticale in Milano, a pair of residential towers designed by Stefano Boeri with a shrubs and trees integrated into their facade. This work requires arborist as well as industrial rope access skills. It was fascinating hearing Renè describing the planning process, the challenges they faced and the solutions they found.

This was followed by Ursula Briner talking about self-coaching in stress situations, about maintaining connections to what is going on around you. She was able to communicate this rather abstract topic in very clear and concrete terms involving the audience.

Next up were three talks on karabiners and connectors, with Martin Zgraggen discussing properties of aluminium, Albert Wenk sketching the evolutions of karabiner design and Puk sharing his thoughts on karabiner maintenance and lubrication as well as fail criteria.

Meanwhile Knut Foppe had set up a major gear fest under the circus tent outside, where he discussed a differentiated approach to connectors, comprehensively explaining the qualities, strengths and weaknesses in the various options of connectors we have when establishing connections.

The final talk was by the Fauchère brothers of Air Glaciers, a helicopter outfit with a number of bases all over Switzerland which performs a lot of transport and rescue operations. They discussed requirements and design considerations they make of connections when flying equipment of persons on longlines or winch lines. Fascinating stuff…


OK, I will admit to having been rather upset, after weeks of uninterrupted sunshine and heat, for the weather to turn right on the day of the event, for driving rain for most of Friday and Saturday, for the sun then to come out on Sunday morning, which almost added insult to injury.

Having said that, we had a good turnout, we managed to weatherproof the event as much as possible and people just generally mucked in. This is the flip side of doing this event in the mountains. Mountains do not do things in half measures: the weather is either stunningly beautiful – or abysmally horrible. I was glad of the sunshine on Sunday morning, as it showed once again, that this really is the ideal location for this event, with all the possibilities which the training centre of the cable car association offers – amongst others.

One thing which stood out for me was working with Sasha Köhler, who moderated the event. Sasha was witty, engaging and professional in the way in which he led the audience through the days. Interestingly though, he never put himself in the foreground, but rather used his position to create a stage for the speakers.

I am confident that vertical-connect can continue to grow. The whole dynamic and breadth of topics covered is unique and I look forwards to evolving it further. A number of changes have already been discussed for next year which will make attending even more attractive – more about this in due course.

The dates for next year are Thursday and Friday, 30 and 31 August 2018, more info in due course under Next year again with English and French simultaneous translation. Consider yourself warmly invited.

Photos courtesy of Dani Vonwiller and Tom Nickel.