The Great Wall of Singapore

Via ferrata
Singapore is home to the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall. Climbing it is unique for more reasons than just its height!

The BorderX via ferrata, aka “iron way,” aka “traditional European mountaineering activity reputed to have been started in Italy in WWI as a means of letting the Italian troops cross the Dolomites,” is an usual experience indeed. It is located in Orchard Central — a shopping mall. You climb past a food court. And yes, people sit there eating and watching you.

The 30m high wall has several color-coded paths you can take, depending on the length and difficulty you want. I took the challenge with my friend Natalie Soh, and, tied to each other, we made our way to the top. There are a number of different safety measures in place; for one, as I mentioned, Natalie and I were tied to each other. By looping the rope that connected us in and out of each “pigtail” (a curly metal rod rooted deeply in the wall) we passed, we were assured we would balance each other’s weight should one of us fall. We also had to have at least one, and preferably two, claw clips on our path’s safety cord at all times. Lastly, we had a very handy, very strong clip on our belts that allowed us to take a swingin’-monkey-style break at any time — quite a relief when your arms get tired or when you’re waiting for your compadre to catch up!

BorderX has trip times all day every day and the prices range from about $14.14 to $24.75 USD, depending on how long you want your trip to be and whether it’s a weekend.

If you think you can’t do it, be advised — they are not in the habit of letting people quit! But rest assured, we climbed with a broad age group; we had someone over 60 with us. “We want to help people overcome their doubts about themselves, and their fear of heights,” said our mountain guide and base camp manager Poh Yu Seung. The best part of the experience, besides the glory of reaching the top and gazing down upon the shopping mall? Eating okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) in the food court afterward, discussing our Michelle Obama arms (Wei brought it up, I swear — they’re an international phenomenon) and watching other people tough out the climb. It’s like a whole new level of entertainment.
This trip was paid for by the Singapore Board of Tourism, but the views expressed within the post are 100% my own.