A via ferrata is ‘a climbing route that employs steel cables, rungs or ladders, fixed to the rock to which the climbers affix a harness.’
I had heard this phrase bandied about when people spoke about climbing mount KK in Sabah. It is somewhat like rock climbing, in that you have a harness, and you are connected to a wire. You’re applying a more sideways movement though, instead of going upwards.
So I was a bit blasé when my friend suggested trying the outfit in the surprisingly large town of Jerantut in Pahang. I thought a 3-4 hours challenge would be moderately easy. Little did I know…
Let’s give this a try
Tasik Hati – Heart Lake – is a heart-shaped lake and the place is Instagrammably beautiful. Arriving at the cliff rock next to the lake was breathtaking. I always get overwhelmed looking at large pieces of rock. Nature is wonderful!
We were met by a very enthusiastic bunch of young guides, who showed us the equipment (which looked new and very safe) and got us to sign forms. We were a group of four adults and two teens and all were quite experienced, so there wasn’t much briefing.
Here are the five safety measures before we climbed the via ferrata:
- Always be clipped in. Even when changing lines, clip one at a time.
- Always look down when there is rock fall. There is limestone, which can be flaky.
- Listen to instructors.
- Have sufficient water and snacks.
- Wear gloves.
The start of the climb was fairly easy; we just got up to the required height. The traverse of the rock was manageable too, until we reached a part where it required upper body strength to pull ourselves up the rock. After that, things started to get hairy.
Luckily after a third of the way, my youngest made the wise choice of bailing out and taking the flying fox home. There are two emergency bail-out areas along the route, for those who change their mind or can’t cope.
The rest of us soldiered on and we enjoyed some amazing views. The difficulty of the remaining part of the course quickly went from 6/10 to 9/10 challenging. A 10/10 would mean failure and bailing… We could hang in our harnesses when tired, but it was tricky getting back on without any footholds. Apparently, they lose lots of footholds due to the flaky rock.
As there aren’t many steps to traverse, we had to push our feet onto the rock, lean back and pull ourselves along. Some parts were quite tough, when we maneuvered around formations and doing the splits, in order to reach the next rock.
We finished the via ferrata with a lovely 200 meter long zipline, skimming the top of the trees at quite an accelerated speed. It caused my heart to pound, as my bottom region was quite close to being whacked! In the end it took us 2 hours plus, instead of the 3 to 4 hours as advertised. I guess, it was a testament to how fit we were.
Some stamina and strength are required to complete the course. I would not recommend the via ferrata for beginners or for sedentary persons.
The instructors and the man in charge, Mr Wan, were very friendly. They encouraged us along the way and gave tips when asked.
Lunch and a swim
As you head back to town, you could head over to RS Café in Jerantut town (15 minutes away) for lunch and cold drinks. After some rest and hydration, you can visit the Lata Meruang waterfall for a lovely swim – a simple 5-minute hike from the carpark. There is some rubbish in the water unfortunately, so do bring water shoes.
Jerantut in Pahang, is a two hours’ drive north of KL – turn off North-South at Temerloh.
You pay RM125 for the via ferrata for beginners and RM225 for more advanced participants. Both fees include the zipline. For the zipline or abseiling you pay RM35 for each activity.
You can contact Wan Ruh Daud from Via Ferrata Tasik Hati at 019-988 5670 to make bookings.
Are you interested in climbing with the whole family? Have a look here at ActiveMama’s article about indoor climbing. A great way to prepare for the real outdoor stuff!