KOTA KINABALU - The world's highest via ferrata or high altitude trekking on Mount Kinabalu has reopened with new safety features added after its abrupt closure following the June 5 earthquake last year.
The via ferrata is operated by Kota Kinabalu-based Mountain Torq, whose officials said there were now more safety features on their two trekking routes at altitudes of 3,520m and 3,776m.
Mountain Torq marketing director Quek I. Gek said their "Walk the Torq" trek for beginners had been rerouted away from the path of falling rocks that occurred in the wake of the magnitude six earthquake.
She said the end portion of Low's Peak circuit for more advanced trekkers had also been rerouted away from the the rockfall area.
Quek said Mountain Torq was also improving its safety procedures, including reducing the ratio of guides or trainers to trekkers.
She said one guide would be assigned to every five trekkers compared to one for 10 trekkers previously.
"However, we always ensured that the number of trekkers to a guide was never more than eight," she added.
Quek said the number of trekkers to a guide for the Low's Peak circuit had also been reduced from six to five.
The company had also introduced the "aeroligne" system for its Low's Peak circuit, where trekkers need not have to clip and unclip their harness every few metres on the lines.
"We're the fifth in the world and first in Asia to adopt this aeroligne continuous line system," she added.
Quek advised climbers to be mentally and physically prepared if they wanted to go up the mountain or the via ferrata.
A total of 18 people died in the avalanches and rockfalls on Mount Kinabalu following the earthquake.
Among those killed were a group of Singapore schoolchildren and teachers on the via ferrata as well as two local Mountain Torq guides.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun launched the reopening of the Mount Kinabalu viaferrata on Tuesday.