Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sabah's first and only Guinness record

Published on: Wednesday, December 16, 2009, Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah earned its first spot in the Guinness World Records through the via ferrata ('iron road' in Italian) built on Mt Kinabalu at 3,776 metres above sea level, which has been certified as the world's highest via ferrata.

The achievement, made by the via ferrata developer, Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd, is also Malaysia's 38th Guinness World Records certification.

A copy of the certification was officially presented by Mountain Torq's founder and executive director, Wilfred Tok, to Sabah Parks Deputy Director, Dr Jamili Nair, witnessed by Sabah Tourism Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin, in a ceremony at the @atmosphere restaurant, Tuesday.

Mountain Torq's via ferrata is a route built using a series of steel rungs, rails and cables embedded into Mt Kinabalu's Panar Laban rock face.

This via ferrata was established in 2007 for climbers and hikers to experience a route that had previously been accessible only to veteran rock climbers and mountaineers with specialised equipment.

The via ferrata, which starts at 3,411 metres above sea level and reaches the highest point of 3,776 metres above sea level, enables climbers and non-climbers to experience the thrill of mountain climbing in complete safety, while taking in the spectacular mountain surroundings and summit views offered by Mt Kinabalu.

"This is an honour and privilege to be recognised by the global authority on world records. Since the inception of Mountain Torq, our team has been working hard to create a way for people to experience adventure differently on the beautiful and mysterious Mt Kinabalu," says Tok.

"Our via ferrata and mountaineering activities are based on internationally recognised service standards. We are also deeply appreciative to Sabah Tourism Board for their kind support and active promotional drive across Asia," he said.

He said they plan to build on this certification and create more exciting adventures on Mt Kinabalu. Mountain Torq began operations on Dec. 15, 2007 and since its inception some 5,000 people have completed the route.

The youngest climber was an eight-year-old girl from Kuala Lumpur who climbed with her mother while the oldest a 69-year-old Briton. There are more than 300 via ferrata routes worldwide, predominantly in Italy, Germany, and France, among others.

"The Guinness World Records took about six months to determine and access before deciding which via ferrata is the highest. We were notified about the results in July," said Mountain Torq's sales and marketing director, Wuek I-Gek.

The second highest via ferrata is found in the Italian Dolomites, called the Marmolada West Ridge, at a height point of 3,343 metres.

Mountain Torq's via ferrata on Mt Kinabalu fits well with an adventure destination with few equals and Sabah Tourism's philosophy to shine among the best as being epitomised by the globally unique highest via ferrata in the world and the first in Asia, says Adlin in congratulating Mountain Torq for the achievement.

"This recognition will be a value add both with respect to conservation efforts and tourism attraction at Kinabalu Park, Malaysia's first World Heritage Site," said Dr Jamili, adding Sabah Parks believes it will boost the attention and appreciation for outdoor lovers throughout the world.

Mountain Torq operates two via ferrata routes - namely the Low's Peak Circuit which is for seasoned climbers and the Walk The Torq that is designed for novice climbers and family groups with members aged 10 and above.

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