Mountain Torq, the world’s highest and Asia’s first via ferrata opened in December 2007 offering a new, exhilarating, adrenalin-charged experience to climbers and hikers to the world heritage site, Mount Kinabalu. A via ferrata (or ‘iron road’ in Italian), is a continuous protected mountain path. It consists of a series of steel rungs, rails and cables embedded into the rock face, opening up routes to the average hiker that were previously only accessible to experienced rock climbers and mountaineers with specialised equipment. Mountain Torq’s via ferrata enables climbers and non-climbers to experience the thrill of mountain climbing in complete safety, while taking in the spectacular mountain surroundings and summit views.
Located at Mount Kinabalu’s Pana Laban rock face, Mountain Torq’s via ferrata begins at 3,400 metres and ends at 3,800 metres. It is an alternative route giving access to the top of Mount Kinabalu (4095m a.s.l.). The world’s second highest via ferrata, at 3,343 metres, is found halfway across the globe in the Italian Dolomites called the Marmolada West ridge. Mountain Torq’s via ferrata is approximately 1.2 kilometres and traverses routes of varying difficulty. It thus caters to all levels of experience, from beginners to intermediate hikers and climbers. The more challenging and physically demanding routes, suited to those with above average fitness levels, will take climbers off-the-beaten track and includes negotiating a 22m foot bridge suspended at a breathtaking 3,600m a.s.l.
Wilfred Tok, Founder of Adventure Mountaineering Centre Sdh Bhd, the operator of Mountain Torq said, “Aside from its record-breaking height, the launch of Mountain Torq’s via ferrata at Mount Kinabalu is also significant for the fact that it is Asia’s newest mountaineering sport. Unlike other mountaineering or climbing activities, it is suitable for all ages, from 10 to 70 years and above. As long as you know how to and are still able to climb a ladder, you will be able to negotiate the via ferrata. All that is needed is a sprit of adventure, the average fitness level of a normal mountain hiker and no fear of heights.”
Mountain Torq’s via ferrata conforms to the highest international safety standards. It was constructed using only CE Mark-approved materials from France, which means that they satisfy stringent European Union quality standards. The via ferrata is able to withstand up to 3 tonnes of weight. Safety practices developed and prescribed by UIAA (the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) for mountaineering sports are adhered to strictly. All equipment used in the sport is UIAA certified and participants are guided at all times by activity trainers who have undergone rigorous training, with regular skills upgrading based on an UIAA-endorsed syllabus. Furthermore, a continuous belay system is employed throughout the via ferrata route wherein climbers are always hooked up to a guideline, making any deviation from the route virtually impossible.
Of the various mountain climbing activities, via ferrata boasts one of the highest safety records, no mean feat considering its long history. Beginning in Europe, with increasing popularity elsewhere, especially in North America, the leisure mountaineering sport had its roots in World War I. The first via ferrata was constructed and used by the Italian military to move men and equipment in the Italian Dolomites across to Austria. Today, there are about 500 via ferrate in the world, predominately in Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain and a few places in the United States and Canada.
Wilfred Tok, added “We are delighted in being able to play a part in the development of Mount Kinabalu and the exotic island of Borneo as a world class destination for sports and adventure tourists. This is the first time a mountaineering activity is formally being introduced to Mount Kinabalu since 1964, when Kinabalu Park was first opened to the public. With Mountain Torq, Mount Kinabalu will entice travelers beyond just scaling the mountain. With this latest mountaineering activity, we can confidently say that Borneo is now a world class adventure destination with a myriad of ocean and mountain activities.”