Saturday 23 October 2010

Iron road to the sacred valley of the Incas: my first via ferrata

We hit Cusco, a Peru tourist mecca, and had a free day to get our adventure on.  I opted for a brand spanking new via ferrata (italian for 'iron road') in the sacred valley, not far from Ollyantaytambo, the gateway to the Inca trail. 

The guys who built and operate the via ferrata were really friendly.  It took them 4 months to drill, bolt, and cable the route.  It is only one year old.  You ascend 300m via a series of ladders, including a cable traverse, all while clipped onto a steel cable with a special via ferrata safety line. 

The safety line is attached to the cable with two carabiners with locking mechanisms that can be operated with one hand.

From the top, you take a series of massive zip lines to the bottom, the longest of which are 500m and 480m.  The top speed you achieve is about 75 km/h - it could be faster if you have a strong tail wind!

The gear provided by the guides was good quality, and I didn't see any loose bolts or rungs.

They have plans to build a capsule hotel at the top of the cliff, so you could ascend the via ferrata, stay in a basic room at the top of the cliff for the night, see the sunrise, and take the zip line back down.  Wicked!  They also preparing to put up a via ferrata in the US and one in Canada.

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