Category Archives: Via Ferrata

Mount Kinabalu trail map

While updating my website and blog today, I found out that Moutain Torq, the only Mount Kinabalu via ferrata adventure operator has created a very nice map of the trail. I received an email yesterday asking me about the route map / trail of Kinabalu.

Some of us new climbers may confused on the trail, as it seems that there are new trails which includes a via ferrata adventure. For your information, there are no new trails at this moment of time, but there two DETOURS while climbing down from Low’s Peak, if you decided to take an adventure with Moutain Torq via ferrata route.

When you climb down from Low’s Peak and arrived at 7.5km mark, you have the option to take the detour with Mountain Torq for their via ferrata adventure, provided that you have registered with them the day before in Pendant Hut. (Pendant Hut is managed by Mountain Torq, not like other huts, in which are run by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges).

After a small briefing, you will be assigned a via ferrata guide by Mountain Torq, as you normal Summit Trail guide do not have the qualification and experience for the adventure. The first detour before Sayat-Sayat Hut is called Low’s Peak Circuit with an intermediate via ferrata difficulty, French grade AD. The journey will take you 4 to 5 hours walk. The second detour after Sayat-sayat Hut is called Walk the Torq, an introductory via ferrata experience, French grade PD. The journey will take you about 2 to 3 hours.

You will then merge back with the Summit Trail just before Gunting Lagadan Hut and after the adventure, your via ferrata guide will bring you back to your hut and hand you back to your dedicated mountain guide.

Cost? You may have to contact Mountain Torq for more information.

The image above is taken from Mountain Torq website. Get it here.

Mount Kinabalu via ferrata adventure FAQ

Mountaintorq.com is very kind to me. I-Gek sent me PDF copies of their brochures on Mount Kinabalu via ferrata adventure FAQ for me to share with you.

As a good operator, she feels that it is their responsibility to educate us on what to expect when going up the majestic mountain of Borneo. I know, most of climbers does not know what to expect when they climb Kinabalu despite all the information that I have written in my website and blog.

What is a via ferrata?
A via ferrata (or ‘iron road’ in Italian) is a protected mountain path consisting of a series of rungs, rails and cables embracing the rock face. It allows access to scenic sections of the mountains that are typically available only to rock climbers and mountaineers. The exhilaration, breathtaking scenery and sense of personal conquest you experience on a via ferrata are guaranteed to give you something to smile about for a long time.

Is via ferrata the same as rock climbing?
No, via ferrata is not the same as rock climbing. Although they both occur in the same area and the same environment, via ferrata climbing is easier than rock climbing and do not require you to have any previous experience.

What is Mountain Torq?
Mountain Torq is the world’s highest and Asia’s first via ferrata that starts at 3,200m and ends off at 3,800m above sea level on Mt Kinabalu in Sabah. Mountain Torq enables climbers and non-climbers to experience the thrill of mountain climbing while taking in the spectacular surroundings.

Who can climb Mountain Torq?
Climbers and non-climbers aged between 10 and 70 who are fit and healthy, not afraid of heights, and want to experience the mountain in a whole new way. Oh and by the way, you also have to be at least 1.3m tall.

Do I need any climbing experience?
Absolutely not! If you can climb a ladder, you can climb Mountain Torq.

Is there someone to guide me?
Yes, you and your group will be assigned an activities trainer. Our friendly trainer is there to give you a full safety briefing and training on how to use the safety devices. They are also there to climb with you, provide tips on how to negotiate the more difficult obstacles, as well as highlight some of the spectacular sights along the way.

Can I go without a guide?
Sorry, but NO due to safety and Sabah Park regulations, mountain guides and or activity trainers are required to accompany you at all times.

What time do I start my via ferrata activity?
Our start time is between 5:30am to 7:30am.

What other activities are there besides via ferrata?
You can enjoy a whole host of other outdoor activities that Mountain Torq offers such as sports climbing, alpine rock climbing, rappelling and basic mountain experience.

Where do I meet my Mt Torq trainer for the activities?
We will meet you at Pendant Hut on the first day and we will advise you on the actual meeting point for your chosen activity during your briefing session in the afternoon of your arrival.

Do any of your services include taking me up on the via ferrata before the break of dawn?
We do not bring clients up on the via ferrata before day break due to safety concerns.

Mountaintorq via ferrata trip preparation notes

Received an email from Mountaintorq today regarding how you can prepare yourself before going for an adventure on Mount Kinabalu. A must read for every Mt. Kinabalu climbers, especially for those who planned for via ferrata adventure.

What do I need to do to prepare for my MOUNTAIN TORQ / Mt Kinabalu adventure?
You will be climbing a major mountain and you are strongly advised to be in a physically fit condition. Here are some suggestions from the Alpine Guides Association:

The best preparation for mountain sports always involves good amounts of cardiovascular  exercise outdoors (running, cycling, mountain biking etc) and getting out for long days in the hills whenever possible. If you do the amounts of regular weekly cardiovascular exercise indicated on the fitness level for your course during the 2-3 months leading up to your trip, then you should be reasonably well prepared. Don’t forget to read the trip descriptions / itinerary carefully to find out what else is involved too, so you can tailor your preparation accordingly.

MOUNTAIN TORQ recommends all customers to participate in cardiovascular sports at least 2 sessions a week, with each session being a minimum of 2 hours in duration. The exercise program should commence at least 2 months before you start your Mt Kinabalu adventure.
To check out how mountain fit you are, go to http://www.alpine-guides.com/fitness.htm for further details.

What do I need to pack?
For personal items, here’s a checklist of the minimum essential items on that you will need to bring:

  • Raincoat or waterproof jacket
  • Warm clothing like fleece jacket, hiking pants
  • Change of clothes (you may not want to sleep in what you sweat in!)
  • Cap / beanie / head scarf (helps prevent heat loss, especially at night, so you can have a more cosy night’s rest)
  • Gloves
  • A small / lightweight towel
  • Personal toiletries
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Torchlight (preferably a head torch)
  • Your camera!
  • Comfortable covered trail/ hiking shoes
  • Energy snacks e.g. chocolate, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars
  • Sun protection – Sunglass, sun screen lotion, SPF lip balm (beware of the strong UV rays)
  • A small backpack to hold your things
  • A rain cover for your backpack
  • And of course, AN ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT!

MOUNTAIN TORQ will provide all technical safety equipment required for its activities.

Where is Pendant hut?
Pendant hut is located at 3,270m / 11,000 feet on the Laban Rata rock face. When you arrive at the Laban Rata rest house, you will see Pendant hut on your right hand side perched above a rock path.

Where do I meet my Mt Torq trainer for my via ferrata briefing when I arrive at Laban Rata level?
Your trainer will be waiting for you at Pendent Hut between 3pm and 4pm for your briefing. During your
briefing, he will

  • Familiarise you with the via ferrata equipment
  • Conduct an initial via ferrata practice round
  • Inform you on the actual meeting point for your chosen activity and
  • Remind you of the cut off meeting time for your activity (6:30am – The Preamble, 7am – Low’s Peak Circuit, 7:30am – Walk the Torq)

Must I attend the briefing?
Quite simply, YES, you have to attend the briefing.

Via Ferrata

Mount Kinabalu via ferrata booking page updates

It has been long overdue. I set up a booking pages for Mount Kinabalu via ferrata adventure together with my existing normal climbing packages few months back. I only managed to put on one package instead of three via ferrata packages that Mountaintorq offers.

Now that I have some time to update the system, I am going to add the other remaining two packages: The Low’s Peak Circuit & The Preamble. While Walk The Torq (the first package) is a “warm up” session of their via ferrata package, the other two packages offers more adventure for you.

The Low’s Peak Circuit (From point A to point C)
You will follow Mountaintorq’s trail down the mountain on Panar Laban Rockface. With this package, you will first summit the Low’s Peak (the highest peak of Kinabalu). And while coming down, a diversion not far from Sayat-Sayat Hut will bring you to this trail.This detour will show you the stunning views and explore hidden corners of the mountain plateau.
This package is suitable for those who NEVER reach the Low’s Peak before and want to get the extra thrill at the same time. First timer should consider this package a bonus – when I went up there 8 years ago, there were no such thing as via ferrata on Kinabalu. Now you can experience TWO adventure in just ONE CLIMB!!!

The Preamble (From point C to point A)
This package will not leads you up to Low’s Peak. It’s a trail that is made in the opposite direction of The Low’s Peak Circuit. While Low’s Peak Circuit leads you down the mountain, The Preamble will leads you up – you will experience the via ferrata by climbing up the route. You will start just after Gunting Lagadan Hut, goes up and ends at Sayat-Sayat, before you go down on the usual Summit Trail back to Pendant Hut.
This package is suitable for those who HAS BEEN up Low’s peak hundreds of time, and not planning to reach the peak again while doing this route. So, for example like me, who has been to Low’s Peak few times, and don’t find sitting on the cold peak with another 100 climbers, jam packed at a very small place, squeeze themselves just to take pictures of their achievement, this is the package to consider.

5 provided equipments for your Mt. Kinabalu via ferrata adventure

Just have a session with Wilfred and I-Gek from Mountaintorq.com last Saturday. Managed to get Aiden and Peter Chang from Power Tours to sit together and discussed about how to work with each other.

Discussion meeting was held at Adventure Factors office here in Wisma Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. Apart from discussing about the via ferrata packages, I also learn some new things from Wilfred on the activities and the extra equipments needed.

Because of the risky nature of this via ferrata activity, Wilfred told me that they have to provide safety equipments for all their climbers. Basically, there are 5 equipments provided:

  1. Safety helmet
  2. Carabiners
  3. Double shock absorbing lanyards
  4. Harness
  5. Dynamic ropes

Via ferrata equipments provided

1. Safety helmet

A helmet is a tough item of headwear that primarily protects the skull against impacts. In well-developed and popular climbing areas, these impacts are more commonly caused by falling objects (such as pebbles or climbing equipment) than by a falling climber hitting the rock or ground.

To protect your head, they use Petzl Elios helmet for their climbers. This helmet has a high density expanded polypropylene foam headpiece on the inside and a thermoformed ABS outer shell, providing both lightness and strength. The ergonomic shape provides maximum protection while ensuring a clear field of vision.

A single adjustment wheel in the back and an adjustable chinstrap allow for efficient and quick adjustments. Four exterior hooks and a groove in the outer shell are designed to attach and secure a headlamp. Nothing has been left out in this simple, but refined helmet.

2. Carabiners

Carabiners (snap links), are equipments which are used to anchor the climber to the safety cable and (sometimes) to rungs along the route.

As the climber moves past an anchor point on the cable (one of the bolts which attach the cable to the rock), the two carabiners are unclipped and clipped on the other side of the anchor, one at a time in succession, so that the climber is attached with at least one side of the lanyard (item no. 3) at all times.

For example, Petzl William Screw-Lock carabiner is a pear-shaped carabiner with large opening. It also has:

  • Large size to allow anchoring of several ropes and slings
  • Large opening
  • Wide pear shape facilitates belaying with Munter hitch on single or double ropes
  • Keylock System (snag-free body / gate interface)

3. Double shock absorbing lanyards

Attached to the harness (item no.4), it is a double or “Y”-lanyard with two cords running to carabiners (item no. 2). On all the route of the via ferrata, the lanyards are always clipped to a safety cable.

Because a fall down the safety cable to the nearest anchor point can generate dangerously high forces, the lanyard is equipped with a load limiting (shock absorbing) device. Ordinary climbing slings are unsafe and may not be used on the via.

They use Petzl Scorpio lanyards, which uses ripping if stitches to achieve the same ends. This is thought to be a safer system as there is nothing to catch that could prevent it working and thus less that could go wrong.

Also the rip-stitch absorber section is stored in a pocket and is more compact and does not hinder movements. The third short end enables you to clip in short to rest, and to remain closer to the cable when traversing (e.g. horizontal or sloping progression).

4. Harness

A climbing harness is a piece of equipment used in certain types of rock-climbing, abseiling or in this case via ferrata, requiring the use of ropes to provide access and/or safety. They type of harness that is used in this activity is sit harness.

Sit harness comprises a waist belt and two leg loops which are normally connected in the front of the hips either through a permanent webbing loop (sometimes called a belay loop) or through the use of a carabiner via a lanyards.

*Some tips – Do remove handkerchiefs, car keys, bulging wallets etc, from your trousers before trying on harnesses. Do remove pullovers too.

Don’t get a harness that you can do up the waist-belt as tight as it can go – buy the next size down so that there is always room to tighten it further. You do not want to risk sliding out of it in a head first fall. Check your waist measurement well above the hips, at your thinnest bit!

5. Dynamic ropes

A dynamic rope (it’s green color item) is a specially constructed, stretchable rope. This ‘stretch’ is what makes it ‘dynamic’, versus a static rope that doesn’t have any give when under load.

By stretching under load, a dynamic rope will soften the impact of extreme stresses on it, and lessen the likelihood of failure. This is particularly useful in rock climbing, where it can absorb much of the energy of a fall (referred to as a whipper amongst rock climbers).

In this activity, the rope is used as a second layer of safety precaution, whereby it will be connected to the person in front and behind you along the trail.

This second layer of protection will help climbers from falling down if they accidentally did not secure the carabiner to the safety cable or forgot to do it. So, when they fall, they will still be connected to the other two climbers.

Mt. Kinabalu via ferrata

By the way, they DO NOT provide hand gloves. You have to bring your own…

Happy climbing!

World’s highest “via ferrata” – Newsfeed from New Sabah Times

KUNDASANG, 16 December 2007: Mountain Torq Via Ferrata, a mountain path (via ferrata is Italian for iron road) which opened here yesterday has been certified by the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) as the world’s highest and Asia’s first.

It is at an altitude of 3,800 metres on the 4,095-metre Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest summit.

The Via Ferrata, a climbing facility named and built by Adventure Factors Mountaineering Centre Sdn Bhd, would further elevate the tourism industry’s service standard and enhance Sabah’s reputation as a world-class adventure destination, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

(A via ferrata is basically a long climbing route with permanently fixed cables for protection. Steel rungs are used on steeper sections to keep the difficulty of the climbing moderate).

“The tourism industry is a highly aggressive field as we are also competing with other countries for the same customers.

“To stay competitive, we need to keep abreast of the current and future needs of this ever evolving industry and respond to the demands of the increasingly sophisticated travellers,” he said in his speech at the opening of Mountain Torq Via Ferrata at Kinabalu Park here.

The text of his speech was read out by his political secretary Datuk Amisah Yasin.

The Mountain Torq, with various alternative routes, enables people of all ages to enjoy climbing Mount Kinabalu’s rock faces, giving them a chance to view the mountain from different angles, said Eric Wong, Adventure Factors Mountaineering Centre director.

Over the past 30 years, Mount Kinabalu’s climbers’ aim has been to climb up and come down in two days after having conquered the summit.

All they could remember was the gruelling five to eight hours hike up, sleepless nights, trying to catch the sunrise and coming down from the mountain.

“We felt we need to give Mount Kinabalu the respect that it deserves as a full-fledged mountain. So we came up with the idea of developing Mount Kinabalu into a mountaineering centre for Southeast Asia,” he said.

Wong said the Mountain Torq Via Ferrata, comprising rungs and cables embracing the mountain’s rock face, allows access to scenic sections of the summit normally accessible only to rock climbers and mountaineers.

Resources: New Sabah Times

World’s highest “via ferrata”
Congratulations…Amisah (right) presents the MBOR certificate to Eric

World’s highest “via ferrata” now on Mount Kinabalu!

While poking through the net, surfing around technorati, I found a very interesting blog post by kenjj about the newest adventure on Mount Kinabalu – via ferrata. So, what is via ferrata?

A via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”. Plural vie ferrate. In German, klettersteig) is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. Walkers and climbers can follow via ferratas without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing. – Wikipedia

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

I found out that there is a new company which provides the adventure activities – Mountain Torq – that was just started on September 2007 (only running for about three months). The interesting thing about them is that, they have given Mount Kinabalu climbers other options of activities and accommodations, apart from the usual climb up and down Low’s Peak.

Lucky for me, while checking up their new website on this new thing on Mount Kinabalu, I found out that their main office in Kota Kinabalu is just across the street of my clinic. I went there last Monday during lunch time, and fortunately, I-Gek, their sales & marketing director was there.

We just have an informal conversation on our passion about Mount Kinabalu, and how hard it is to get a slot to climb nowadays. Apparently, they are very busy, as they are going to have their launching ceremony this Saturday, 15th December 2007 at Kinabalu Park.

During that short period of time, I managed to get more information pertaining the climb, the activities and the accommodation that they provide. In summary, these are the things that we ought to know at the moment:

  1. Pendant Hut, Laban RataThey have a newly build hut/lodges on Laban Rata – Pendant Hut, which is non-heated, bunk-beds that could accommodate 30 climbers. This is a good options for climbers who could not get through to SSL for bed. However, they have set their own rule; if you are planning to stay in their hut – you have to, at least, pick one of their activities on their via ferrata, apart from the usual Low’s Peak trip.
  2. They are the only sole provider for via ferrata, equipments and staffs, and they are not related to SSL.
  3. You have three options of via ferrata that you could choose – Walk the Torq, The Low’s Peak Circuit and The Preamble. More coming soon!
  4. As they ONLY provide the activities, you have to book for accommodation in Pendant Hut from their designated travel & tour company. This also means that you still can do their activities although you stay in one of SSL’s huts in Laban Rata.
  5. Having said the above, they welcome ‘Walk-ins’ at either Laban Rata / or at Pendant hut. It will be on a first come first serve basis and weather permitting.
  6. They are the world’s highest and Asia’s first via ferrata located at 3,800m, offers a range of routes designed to match everyone’s ability and endurance.
  7. They did not disclose the pricing structure. You need to contact them to ask for quotations. *Please mention my name/website/blog when you contact them. You may get a special treatment for mentioning it. And they will know how powerful blogging-advertising works!

This new activities has made Mount Kinabalu more interesting than just up-down climb. And I am now working on how to work together with them to promote their activities in my website and blog. Stay tune for more info.

For those who are going to be at the foot of the mountain (Kinabalu Park) this Saturday, 15th December 2007, just drop by their launching ceremony. I won’t be able to be there. Send my regards to them if you happen to crash in their party.

Need I say more? Just check out their photos which I have extracted from their website (I got permission on this. Thanks, I-Gek!). Cheers!

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

 

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