Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mount Kinabalu, home of world’s highest via ferrata

Ask the man on the street on whether he knows what is ‘via ferrata’ and it is highly likely that he would return a blank look and say “sorry, no idea”.

Repeat the same question to a mountaineer or rock climber, you may get a passionate reply with some glowing experience on it thrown in.

The via ferrata, or ‘iron road’ in Italian, is a mountain path that consists of a series of steel rungs, rails and cables embedded into the rock face on a mountain slope. It opens up routes for the average hiker that were previously only accessible to experience rock climbers and mountaineers with specialised equipment.

This leisure mountaineering sport had its roots in World War I. The first via ferrata was constructed and used by the Italian military to move troops and equipment across the Italian Dolomites into to Austria. Climbers can follow the via ferrata without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing.

The via ferrata are found in a number of European countries, including Italy, Germany, England, France, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Poland as well as a few places in the United States, Canada and Malaysia.

Mount Kinabalu in Sabah has the first via ferrata, not only in Malaysia but also in Asia. Opened in December 2007, it is an alternative route to the top of Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 metres above sea level. Located at Mount Kinabalu’s Panar Laban rock face, the via ferrata is also the world’s highest. It begins at 3,411 metres and ends at 3,776 metres above sea level. This was certified by the Guinness World Records. The via ferrata is a four to six-hour hike from the Mount Kinabalu Park Headquarters.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Mount Kinabalu, home of world’s highest via ferrata

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