Gran Canaria, the third largest of the Canary Islands, is well known as a rock climbing destination. What’s less known is that the island has quite a few excellent via ferrata’s, including the longest via ferrata of Spain, La Guagua. The main via ferrata’s on Gran Canaria, worth visiting, are:
Extraplomix, Primera Luna, and Jesús Beitia (all in the Berriel Gorge at the south coast close to San Agustín)
La Guagua (San Pedro, west coast)
The Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia is located in the Berriel Gorge (Barranco El Berriel in Spanish) at the south coast close to Bahía Feliz and San Agustín.
The route is relatively short, as are all the Berriel Gorge via ferrata’s, ascending about 113 meters from the base to the top. The route is secured by thin iron cables, attached to the bolts. Apart from that, there are various climbing aids, such as stemples, bars, and 2 ladders on the route. There is an escape route about halfway up the via ferrata, just below the first tall ladder section. From all the routes in the Berriel Gorge via ferrata zone, the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia is the easiest one. At the same time this is the one where you will have the most fun. To climb the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia no special climbing skills are required, as the route is well-equipped with climbing aids. But you need to have a good head for hights, as the first ladder section feels somewhat airy as well as a traverse above the second ladder section.
The Berriel Gorge via ferrata's: overview. Jesús Beitia is the red route.
There are frequent flights from many European cities to Gran Canaria, and also a few from Africa.
There are buses all over the island, and connections are good. There is a bus stop at Bahía Feliz on the GC-500, from where the approach takes less than an hour on foot. If you want to be flexible, consider renting a car. We used Cicar.
Parking lot at the start of the approach. In the back are some of the nearby hotels and holiday appartment dwellings.
In order to reach the Berriel Gorge, take exit "San Agustín / Bahía Feliz" on the highway GC-1. Drive a minute or so towards San Agustín on the GC-500, until you see "Monte Feliz" written in Hollywood-style on the slope of a hill. There are several hotel buildings atop the hill. Almost past the hill is a pedestrian bridge over the GC-500. When you see this, it’s time to slow down or you'll miss your exit. It's on the right, onto a dirt track 100 m before the bridge and immediately before a bus stop.
There's a dirt parking lot right beside the GC-500. You can park there, or drive further to the NE on a dirt road towards a narrow tunnel under the GC-1. Pass through the tunnel and park just a few meters further on an another dirt parking lot.
San Agustín is highly recommended as a base to stay during your adventures at the south coast of Gran Canaria. It has a sandy beach and somewhat less crowded than the popular beaches further west. There are several supermarkets, including a small very easily accessible HiperDino just beside the GC-500, which passes through the town.
San Agustín Beach: a nice place to take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean after climbing in the Berriel Gorge
Wild camping is officially prohibited anywhere on the island. Overnight bivouacs are at your own risk, use the common sense and keep a very low profile. And, of course, do not leave any trace.
The route is located in the Berriel Gorge (Barranco El Berriel in Spanish), about 30-45 minutes walking from the last parking lot.
From the parking area behind the tunnel over the GC-1 head straight uphill on a dirt road, which is closed down for public traffic by a metal barrier at the hilltop. Continue further north along the road, towards a dam wall in distance.
The road leads you around a hill to a small flat plain. Upon reaching this flat area you see a marker on a big stone on your left – the green letters VF with an arrow pointing to the left, painted on white background.
Follow this sign!
Turn to the left here and follow the 4WD trail for about 700 meters into the Berriel Gorge, until the trail ends with a flat (parking) area. The via ferrata’s are located on a cliff face on your right. Particularly, the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia can be seen from far away due to its distinctive ladders.
From the flat area walk uphill to the right towards a big overhang. Here the Via Ferrata Extraplomix begins. Continue walking to the right around the cliff face, following an obvious path, until you reach the beginning of the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia (marked!). On your way you pass yet another via ferrata, Primera Luna.
The beginning of the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia is easy to spot as you see a series of stemples going up the cliff face.
Start of the approach route
Approach to the Berriel Gorge
Approach to the Berriel Gorge
Approach to the Berriel Gorge
Rob on the way to the Berriel Gorge
Rob entering the Berriel Gorge
The first section of the route, until you reach the first ladder, is mainly climbing up the rock plates via a series of stemples. On the way there’s a small hole in rock, where you need to crawl on your knees.
Looking up at the route
Jan starting on Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia
Climbing the stemples in the first section
The next section is a 19 meter tall ladder, which is not anchored to the ground, but counterbalanced by a cage full of rocks. As you climb the ladder, it moves at will, especially when you are starting off. This makes climbing a rather airy experience. The ladder has three small platforms for having a brief rest.
Small hole to crawl through
The first ladder section
Climbing the first ladder
At the top of the ladder is a small passage to the left. After completing that, you reach a 7 meter tall aluminium ladder through a crack of broken rock. After the second ladder comes the next section, an airy traverse of about 8 meters to the left into a narrow crack.
At the end of the first ladder section
Climbing the second ladder
On the airy traverse from atop the second ladder to a narrow crack
Continue upwards along the crack, which eventually leads you to the top of the route.
At the end of the traverse, moving into a narrow crack
Atop the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia
At the top of the Berriel Gorge via ferrata zone
View from the top: the red arrow points at the parking lot
From the top of the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia there’s a well marked trail back down to the base of the route.
After topping out on the via ferrata continue slightly further uphill following small cairns. These will lead you to the start of the descent path, which is marked by pale yellowish paint on stones. As the trailhead is a well-trodden path, it's fairly hard to miss.
In the beginning, the path is fairly easy to walk on, descending gently past huge cacti. Further downhill you need to descend a steep gully with fixed ropes in place. Once out of the gully, keep looking for the markers on stones as the terrain is rather rough without a clear path at times. The descent route takes you eventually back to the start of the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia.
Looking back at the first section of the descent route
Fixed ropes on the descent route
Going down involves easy scrambling
Rob descending rough terrain
Back at the start (red arrow) of the via ferrata
Take the standard via ferrata kit, including a Y-shaped lanyard with 2 carabiners, harness, and helmet. Leather via ferrata gloves are highly recommended, as there's plenty of iron to grab for aided climbing.
A Spanish site of the Via Ferrata Jesús Beitia with the route description, and the Google Earth track. This page contains also a very nice aerial overview map of the routes in the Berriel Gorge via ferrata zone.