Sea to Sky Gondola makes climbing a cinch with new via ferrata

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      The Sea to Sky Gondola offers easy though not inexpensive access to trails for hikers and walkers.

      For rock climbers, there's the crags at Klettergarten and Wrinkle Rock.

      Now, the one-year-old tourist attraction and adventure destination is introducing a way for almost everyone to experience the thrill of a climb without the risk of cratering.

      On Friday (June 19), the gondola will launch a via ferrata with about 100 metres of elevation gain.

      Paul Bride/Sea to Sky Gondola

      What the heck's a via ferrata? A Sea to Sky Gondola news release explains:

      Via Ferrata, an Italian phrase meaning “the iron way” is a popular alpine experience in the European Alps where people access the same terrain as rock climbers and mountaineers with the relative ease of climbing a ladder. Steel rungs are fixed into the rock with steel cable running alongside the route, which harnessed climbers clip themselves to, with reinforced lanyards specific for Via Ferrata.

      Now, you can't just ride the gondola up and climb this thing on your own. The via ferrata is operated by Sea to Sky Guides, a division of Mountains Skills Academy & Adventures.

      Paul Bride/Sea to Sky Gondola

      A 1.5-hour tour involves hiking down from the Summit Lodge at 885 metres above sea level to the "flight deck" at the base of the climb, where a guide will clip you in to the "safety mechanism".

      Then the fun starts. The release states:

      Ascending a series of pitches totalling approximately 100 metres of vertical, guests will traverse a sky ledge, cross a suspension bridge and ascend up glacier-worn granite, all while aided by the steel rungs and protected by the safety cable. The route finishes below the sun deck of the Summit Lodge, where groups can unwind and enjoy the other attractions adjacent to the Sea to Sky Gondola.

      The cost is $109 per adult, $425 per family, or $763 for a private package (plus gondola tickets). Tours begin at 9:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., and 3 p.m., with later starts available on weekends.

      Paul Bride/Sea to Sky Gondola

      By the way, Whistler Blackcomb has a via ferrata on top of Whistler Mountain, run by Whistler Alpine Guides, also part of Mountains Skills Academy & Adventures.




      Jun 19, 2015 at 10:38am

      I am all for anything that gets people out and active, but these outdoor "experiences", like those at Grouse, are heavily subsidized by the public in terms of the highway to get there and other costs. These costs are paid by the entire population, including the disabled. Then, AFAIK, lots of the hiking trails are either crown land or parks, like Grouse takes advantage of the lynn headwaters park being there.

      I know this isn't grouse, but the same idea applies: when the tram was built, it was free. Now it costs $10, or about 1.8% of a disabled person's support allowance. Of course, a person on disability won't be able to afford hiking boots, either, but the point is that these are, effectively, quasi-public community facilities, like community centers, to which the disabled are denied access.

      It would be one thing if these ventures were truly private, but they aren't---isn't it objectionable that BC's poorest people have to subsidize recreation for the upper middle classes every time they buy something with PST?

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