Rockwire Mt Buller

For those who love an adventure and want the thrill of rock climbing without the technical experience. Via ferrata, or ‘iron way’ in Italian, or RockWire in Australia, is THE way.

Published 12th February 2024  Words and Photos Mandy Lamont

What is Via Feratta?

Originating in the Dolomites in 1880, it was used in World War I as a way of moving troops around the borders of Austria and Italy. Now used and maintained for recreation it has a cult following across the mountains of Europe, Asia and America.

RockWire Mt Buller

Now Australia’s first alpine via feratta, or RockWire, is open at Mt Buller.  Currently with and single 400 metre route it’s perfect for beginners.  Attached to the continual cable system, the stemplers, or foot holds allow easy traversing and climbing of the western face of the summit. A longer and more technical second Route is currently under construction which will be ready after winter.

The Experience

With sturdy footwear and an adventurous spirit, we met in the Altitude Sports store in the Village Centre. Our guides Ben and Tayler kit us out with a helmet, harness, and a lanyard with a carabiner and a zaza. This morning’s intrepid mountaineers are Erin and Tarin who have come up from Melbourne, Dave from Mt Buller and myself. We jump in the Rockwire van and are driven to the carpark at the base of the summit.

The most strenuous part of the trip is the 400 m hike to the summit.  But the reward is stunning. 360 degree views of Mansfield and Mt Buller and layer upon layer of mountains. You can see all the way to Feathertop and the Main Range on a clear day, and today is absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in the sky or breath of wind on this mild late summer morning.

The Walk to the Climb

We hike out over the west ridge and down to the climb along the west face of the summit, about 1.1 km from the summit carpark.  The views of the Delatite Valley 1,000 metres below are spectacular.

After a safety briefing, I hook my carabiner and zaza onto the metal cable and start descending the wire ladder. The zaza, a fixed carabena with a 5-6 mm opening, slides over the anchor plates, spaced every 3-4 metres, so I’m attached to the wire at all times. I also attach the carabiner to the wire for extra safety.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Part scrambling, part rock climbing, the anti-clockwise circuit has us descending, traversing and ascending the rock face. Ladders, wire bridges, stemples (foot holds), lollipop’s, (handholds) and gas pedals, create stepping stones along the route. You can also scramble your way along the route using your hands and feet on the rock ledges, or even just hang onto the rope. Choose your own adventure.  I mostly used the hand and foot holds, but having small feet and short legs, I often found it easier just to rely on the rock itself for foot and hand placements.

Standing on a stemple on the edge of a cliff looking out in the distance, I’m almost hypnotised taking in the spectacular sights of Mansfield, Lake Eildon, the Paps and Timbertop. It’s very intimidating terrain, but I feel perfectly safe hooked onto the cable.

The formation of the rock is incredible observed up close. The jagged edges, angles and stacked configurations have me admiring Mother Nature’s evolution of this area. There are even wildflowers growing out of parts of the rock surface.

A New Experience in the Mountains

An assisted scrambling route on fixed cables, screwed into the rock. Rockwire offers the thrill of extreme activities like rock climbing and mountaineering, with minimal skills. It’s as easy as climbing a ladder, with great views to go along with it. The beauty about via ferrata or Rockwire is that you don’t need any experience to give it a go. It is intimidating terrain, so feeling comfortable with heights is definitely an advantage. But being clipped onto the wire at all times, you feel very safe. If you do happen to fall, you won’t fall very far. Such a unique and thrilling way to experience the mountains.

Check out the RockWire website here

You may be interested in reading about mountaineer Allie Pepper here

Newsletter Sign-up

Join the Lamont Magazine community and receive the latest news and updates about Australian mountain adventure and lifestyle, delivered straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!