Not to be outdone by the national parks, Canadian Mountain Ziplines of Kananaskis, Alberta, is proposing to build a via ferrata across the face of Mount John Laurie (better known as Yamnuska). “We will provide people who have limited climbing ability with an exciting route to its lofty summit without the risks associated with traditional rock climbing” they said.
An Alberta Tourism spokesperson said they are working with CMZ on a 600 bed casino resort (life is one big gamble in K Country) on former Natural Area land recently given to the MD by the province. A high-speed chairlift will lift tourists to a base station. After signing a waiver and buying mandatory one-day life insurance, ascentionists (I won’t call them climbers) will have a choice of two stunning lines: the Summit Route (French grade PD: Peu Dificile) suitable for beginners and possibly children, and the Grand Traverse (Assez Dificle) for more experienced beginners. The latter will hike to the summit after competing the traverse and descend the Summit zipline accompanied by trained local ravens.
The MD predicts that the population of sleepy Kananaskis (currently about six people, four dogs and a few deer) will see a substantial increase, bringing more revenue to depleted Alberta coffers. The province will undertake a 20-million dollar safety study with emphasis on developing a bungy/rope system to alleviate the common via ferrata problem of high fall factors, and to develop suitable soft padded ledges, rungs, spikes, etc. on which a careless tourist may fall.
Ever environmentally friendly, CMZ will make every effort to make the via ferrata blend in with the surroundings using natural rock for buildings and standard K Country s- -t brown paint on all iron work and stemples (do you know what they are?) To enhance safety, the cliff will be closed to “old fashioned” climbers from May 1 to Sep 30.
An editorial in today’s Calgary Herald titled “Where eagles soar” (they don’t know about the ravens) sums it up by saying “The province should also climb aboard and consider some via ferrata sites in areas such as Kananaskis and Bow Valley Wildland Park”.