The world's most dangerous hike
March 12, 2015 12:59 PM   Subscribe

"The path, a meter wide, traverses the gorge at a height of over 100 meters above the torrents below ... Now the pathway is well over 100 years old and is at varying stages of decay. Several sections have fallen away entirely, leaving behind only the supporting iron bars." This is El Caminito del Rey, possibly the most dangerous hike in the world. A video of the hike. Another, this one in first-person and filled with butt-clenching moments. And another, in hi-def.
posted by jbickers (33 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
1:25. My palms are sweating.
posted by standardasparagus at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2015


I need a xanax now.
posted by hollygoheavy at 1:08 PM on March 12, 2015


All my nopes.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


Really beautiful, but I'd feel safer hanging off El Cap with those guys who free-climbed the Dawn Wall.
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


My butt, it clenches.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:13 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am a hiker and I have hiked on several trails that are considered "dangerous", such as The Precipice in Arcadia NP, Huntington's Ravine and the Great Gulf headwall on Mt. Washington, The Knife Edge on Mt. Kathadin and a few others and NO FUCKING WAY WOULD I GO NEAR THIS THING OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO THROW UP SOMEONE HOLD ME.
posted by bondcliff at 1:15 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


It says there was a 9$ million Euro project to restore the path, scheduled for completion Feb 2015.

Hmmm. I have an aunt in southern Spain I'm overdue to visit...
posted by mannequito at 1:23 PM on March 12, 2015


Butt clenching indeed... and in El Chorro Spain, no less.
posted by cell divide at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but if you're on belay this goes down as "an easy traverse", looks like maybe 5.3 or 5.4? It could go a little harder if you avoided all the man-made holds.
posted by Walleye at 1:39 PM on March 12, 2015


How do you secure yourself to a rope for the entirety of that path?
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:41 PM on March 12, 2015


I'm one of those people who freaks out whenever a friend steps too close to the edge of the bluff, or wants to sit with their feet dangling over the edge--never mind doing it myself! My agoraphobia-by-proxy won't even let me hit 'play' on those videos.
posted by General Tonic at 1:42 PM on March 12, 2015


I don't know exactly where "hike" ends and "climb" begins, but it seems like they're trying to find out!
posted by Phredward at 1:48 PM on March 12, 2015


While CLIFF exists; do echo "NOPE"; done.
posted by eriko at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm one of those people who freaks out whenever a friend steps too close to the edge of the bluff, or wants to sit with their feet dangling over the edge--never mind doing it myself!

Sometimes I remember when a friend did this at a huge cliff like five years ago and it still freaks me out.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:54 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm acrophobic, so it's all a big NOPE! to me, but that definitely made my palms sweat.

If you like this sort of thing I'd also recommend viewing hikes of Hua Shan, one of China's Five Sacred Daoist mountains. There are parts of the Hua Shan "trail" that are so marginal and sketchy that El Caminito looks like Interstate 5 in comparison.
posted by mosk at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, no....
posted by entropicamericana at 2:01 PM on March 12, 2015


It was surprisingly crowded for a deathtrap.
posted by tommasz at 2:05 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out how they built this damn thing in the first place... Maybe it said so in the links, but I was hyperventilating just looking at the pictures.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:05 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It says there was a 9$ million Euro project to restore the path, scheduled for completion Feb 2015.

Here's some more info on that. It looks a lot less scary now.
posted by smackfu at 2:17 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


How'd they build it? Workers, slung from ropes hanging down from the tops of the cliff. Looks like the whole thing was constructed with sections of railroad rails. Wide enough for a pack animal, and imagine the weight when it was new, when the King and his retinue strolled the length of it?
posted by Rash at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


>smackfu At least the 2.9 km "boardwalk" section looks less scary . . !
posted by auggy at 2:30 PM on March 12, 2015


I wonder how many selfie sticks have gathered at the foot of the mountain.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:34 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Looks like this is set up as a via ferrata route, no? I wouldn't exactly call that hiking - it's certainly a lot safer than it might otherwise look, traveled that way.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:07 PM on March 12, 2015


Yeah. No.

(It's not the height, it's the disrepair.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:20 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Previously with lots of links to other horrors in the comments.
posted by unliteral at 3:29 PM on March 12, 2015


Looks like this is set up as a via ferrata route, no? I wouldn't exactly call that hiking - it's certainly a lot safer than it might otherwise look, traveled that way.

Not really "set up", though. The walkway had deteriorated so much that I wouldn't call any of the remaining structure trustworthy, and the safety cable was just strung up by some random I think. In the traditional numeric climbing scale I tend to classify things like this as "crumbling.pucker" and nope right out.
posted by traveler_ at 5:05 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd love to walk this; I'm ok with heights but there are sections in the video that make me say "woah!"

I have had the chance to lean out over a 3000 foot (1000 meter) cliff and that definitely gives you a funny feeling in your stomach. But heights are funny -- one time I got total vertigo hiking up a hillside that wasn't steep at all, but some trick of the landscape and maybe dehydration made me need to go on all fours for a few minutes until my balance returned.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:28 PM on March 12, 2015


See also: Huashan.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:12 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Video of the new path which has been constructed just above the old one.
posted by dave99 at 7:22 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was anyone else totally distracted by the narration in the first link? It sounded like it was recorded at the bottom of that gorge.
posted by lunasol at 7:57 PM on March 12, 2015


They keep calling it a restoration, but that seems inaccurate. The new path is neat, but it's not a restoration of the old path.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:17 AM on March 13, 2015


True, it seems almost like an observation area for the original historical path.
posted by smackfu at 9:55 AM on March 13, 2015


This gives a bit of the history in a way that scratches my urban planning itch:


"The World's Most Dangerous Trail" Reopens This Week


Less meaty article, but with big pics: World's Most Dangerous Trail Reopens After 15 Years

Official site with info on the free tickets (tickets are to limit the number of people, apparently).
posted by Michele in California at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2015


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