Is SA ready for Via Ferrata

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Is SA ready for Via Ferrata

Post by ClimbZA » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:32 pm

Check out the article on Via Ferrata climbing in the US (the one with the picture of the guy standing on a ladder!) -

So... should SA start creating via Ferrrata routes to open the mountains to all or avoid them completely?
Whats your opinion??


Post by MW » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:36 pm

Arg - thats hideous. Just incredibly naff. My knee jerk reaction is yuck!

...but why can't they just bash their knees up the face as the rest of the beginners have to? Thats half the fun. Then again, we have the chain ladder in the berg...Maybe once I have recovered from the shock I can have another go on thinking about this one.

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Post by JonoJ » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:53 pm

Ag noooooo man!!!

My initial response would be a big fat NO!!

...... but after a little think-session, if a survey of the tourism revenue generated in countries with estabished Via Ferrata's proves that it is a lucrative enough exercise, it might prove beneficial to us.

As long as a good percentage the monies earned, via a Via Ferrata, go straight to the MCSA, we may never have to pay for new bolts, path-building supplies, and other miscellaneous mountain expenses, out of our own pockets ever again.

Personally I think they are ridiculous, but then again I don't have to ever set foot on one if I don't want to. Provided the Via Ferratas are established in such a way as not to impact any of the current traditional climbing areas, nor get in the way of potential new routes, it may be a good idea.

A huge collaboration with the MSCA, general climbing community, and tourism industry would definitely have to take place before a decision is made.

What's the scoop? Are plans already in progress, or is this a hypothetical question?

Derek Marshall

Post by Derek Marshall » Thu Dec 08, 2005 10:42 pm

They would have to be made of concrete. Stainless or aluminum would be stolen for scrap.

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Post by Jane » Fri Dec 09, 2005 7:49 am

Just an idea to throw into the pot… how about setting Via Ferrata up on a section at Bovan. Thereby creating a greater tourist attraction and generating more jobs and more money to be used for security etc. I don’t meant turn the whole place into a jungle gym, but maybe some sections. The more money that can be pumped into the place, the safer it will become for the rest of us climbers. :lol:

Next question: How high does the rock have to be in order to make a decent Via Farrata??


Not bad

Post by Ian » Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:21 am

I did one once in Switzerland, lots of fun. Make no mistake this is a lot of work. The one we were on took 3 years to complete, and this is Switzerland, it was not due to a lack of money or resources. I reckon somewhere in the berg would be best, but the rock will be a bit of a concern. Maybe some of the mountains in the Cape. Suspect lots of people will crap their pants before they allow this sort of thing. I just reckon its just a vertical path. It may be a worth while exercise.


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Scrap heap mountains

Post by Andy Davies » Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:58 am

No no no!!! We cannot let our beautiful mountains turn into a scrap heap. I believe the MCSA and other mountain users must resist any attempts to install via ferratas. Europeans have allowed their mountains to be turned into industrialised junkyards by installing cable cars, coms stations, railways and via ferratas. If you can't climb up the mountain, then walk up another one.

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Post by Bron » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:41 am

I totally agree with Andy. I think it's an awful idea.
If, like the article says, the idea is to give beginners an idea of what climbing is about, then rather find a really low grade, like a 10, and let them climb rock. Walking up a metal ladder is not anything remotely similar to climbing.
If the idea is to give everybody access to the mountains I don't think that's a particularly good idea either. Someone mentioned the chain ladder. The chain ladder allows every man and his dog access to the top of the berg, which I don't think is a good thing. (Please resist the urge here to leap at me, shouting \"elistist!\" \"selfish!\" \"arrogant!\") The top of the amphitheatre is a tip as a result of this easy access. The amount of rubbish discarded by ignorant day trippers is phenomenal. I usually come down with a couple of checkers bags full of other peoples' crap. I once watched a teacher leading a school day trip stuff her rubbish into my backpack when she thought I wasn't looking. Why should we provide access to some of the most unspoiled and beautiful areas in our country to people who don't think twice about trashing them? I'm not saying that hikers don't litter - I've brought down rubbish from every place in the berg that I've been to. But in general, people who have had to put a little effort into reaching a beautiful spot tend to appreciate it a little more and look after it a little better than those who just wander up for the day.
All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.

G u y

Post by G u y » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:04 pm

I think that it is a great idea. Do know how much fun it is to go up steep mountains without all the climbing crap (and without taking significant risks). I think that they could be an amazing asset to our tourism industry if they are installed properly and in the right place.

Regarding the number of users – I think that you guys are missing something. Climbing a via ferrata is MUCH harder and scarier than hiking. Therefore, it will attract fewer people than hiking trails.

Regarding litter – why not employ people to clean up?

Why should 1c go to the MCSA to fund bolts??


Post by Mark » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:56 pm

My gut feeling is no, but that may be a bit selfish, it would probably make sense to get tourists up the mountain for tourism sake but the problem is if our government decides this a great way to spend funds and we end up with these things all over the place. Imagine working your butt off up a tough route, with somebody taking a climb up a ladder next to you? (it sort of takes the cause and the mickey out of what we are doing) I think if they are built descretely (out of sight) to assist hikers to link routes this may make sense. Otherwise we are going to destroy our mountains. Usually people complain about how the bolts and chalk \"degrade\" (no pun intended) the rock face. If not done properly the via ferrata's will surely do the same? So in conclusion yes, but gently.


Post by Roland » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:39 pm

Every time I go out and bolt a route, part of me feels that it isn't right. Yet then I get all philosophical and try and understand the reason for being on this planet at all. (Generally I fall off the route I have been trying because my brain is concentrating too hard on understanding the meaning of life and less on the route.) About a year or two ago when I was in CT and the debate was raging on about the Thars, I looked out of the car window and saw roads, power stations, and a huge city. - I could hardly imagine how much damage and impact Thars could have in relation to what us humans have done around the world. It is quite strange how us humans are pretty keen to knock off a few thousand animals that seem to be degrading the environment but we are not keen to knock ourselves off that are changing the environment of a planet....

The point I trying to get at is that we either almost follow a Nialistic (sp??) approach by doing nothing to our surrounds, or we follow a fairly responsible one where we care for the environment, but also make it a play area for us.

There are some studies that have shown that Via Ferratas account for up to 50% of mountain use in some areas in Europe. Generally I feel that the more people that use the mountains in a responsible way, the better. Especially in this country where crime is a huge issue, and where job creation might be an important factor in reducing this. Plus, there is just so much rock in the country - some of it pretty nasty, where most wouldn't think about doing normal climbing, where Via Ferratas might have a place.

As far as I know, there are no conservation laws protecting mountains on private land that isn't part of a protected area, and these days any substantial development requires a proper EIA to be done beforehand. So it would seem that someone wanting to put up a Via Ferrata in their backyard would be entitled to.

I also think that the cost and effort of putting up these type of routes will mean that they don't spring up over night. Also, if it gets done correctly from the start, with proper education, I am confident that participants will be environmentally conscious. It might even be an idea to only allow guided parties up these routes if they are not say part of the MCSA or other recognised mountain association.



Post by Doug » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:48 pm

I think there are a number of issues to work through here:

Firstly, from the climbers' viewpoint, is do these things conflict with existing climbing routes? I think the experience from Europe is that they don't. Via Ferratas usually follow the kind of line that is unsuitable for normal rock-climbing. In fact they are often great to use as speedy and relatively safe and environmentally friendly decents (no abseiling, no steep, crumbly paths).

The second is: should we climbers feel peeved, and would there be any appropriate action, if Via Ferratas were allowed on Table Mountain, for example, but bolted routes not allowed? No answer to that - it's maybe a petty issue.

And another is: who is going to put the things up? For a start, the MCSA should (and in all probabilty will) steer well clear of these things: they are a huge effort and expense to put up, and not without maintenance requirements either. Park authorities? Get real. Private enterprise? Perhaps the most realistic possibility, but the business model is thin. So I rather think we have nothing to debate anyway - no organisation in SA can afford to put up Via Ferratas.

Post by » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:01 pm

any ideas on the cost?

Post by » Sun Jan 01, 2006 5:12 pm

I did not read the article (can't be bothered) but the first thing that came to mind is SA's wonderful open policy on placing fixed gear. If a bolt is deamed criminal then how do you reckon a ladder bolted to the side of the mountain will go down?

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Post by Justin » Sun Jan 01, 2006 8:54 pm

As Roland mentions above
\"As far as I know, there are no conservation laws protecting mountains on private land that isn't part of a protected area, and these days any substantial development requires a proper EIA to be done beforehand. So it would seem that someone wanting to put up a Via Ferrata in their backyard would be entitled to.\"
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Post by » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:28 pm

That does not mean that they are not complete idiots with no sense of ethics!

Derek Marshall

Post by Derek Marshall » Mon Jan 02, 2006 1:11 pm

There are lots of mountains in SA. There must be some place for Via Ferrata use in SA. Parts of Table Mountain are fairly scrapy already, so one of these jobs next to the cable car would not be that out of place.

Is it unethical to block other user groups' right to use the mountians? The cable car on TM was allowed... so why not a Via Ferrata? There would be less users of a Via Ferrata than a cable car, thus less litter.

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