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What Is Via Ferrata & Where Are The Best Places To Do It?

What Is Via Ferrata?

I have to be honest… my hands are sweating just looking at the pictures of people doing Via Ferrata. The heights and the potential for death that come with rock climbing get me every time. But now that I know what Via Ferrata is – essentially an entry-level form of rock climbing where you’re supported and protected – I might be open to giving it a try.

A Perfect Introduction To Rock Climbing

via ferrata
Image: @anitalielmane on Instagram

Rock climbing in general is fun, active, and also a really great urban adventure. However, a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people considering the real-deal activity where you’re actually climbing up rocks is that you might… die. Clearly, right?

However, when you consider the payoff – breathtaking views, enhanced perspective, and really great exercise that demands huge focus and basically requires you to be superhuman – it seems worth it.

So how do you get started? I’ve never rock-climbed outside, but I’ll tell you right now I’d rather be drinking a beer and cheering people on from the ground than I would be risking my life scaling cold, hard surfaces at death-defying heights. I literally almost could not watch Free Solo.

With Via Ferrata, however, I might be down.

via ferrata
Image: @anitalielmane on Instagram

Via Ferrata, which translates to “iron way” or “iron path”, is a vertical or traversing route along rock or steep terrain. The technique leverages steel cables and rungs typically made of steel rebar drilled into the rock wall. From there, you can climb surfaces that might otherwise be completely inaccessible. You basically climb up the rungs the same way you would a normal ladder. It’s essentially a cross between hiking and rock climbing. Because of this, it’s an incredibly popular adventure with outdoor enthusiasts.

What Will You Need?

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Image: @imma_finestres on Instagram

One of the best features of Via Ferrata is its accessibility. With nothing but sneakers and a big grin, you can be hanging off of secure rungs on the side of a mountain, making everyone viewing your Instagram feed super jealous.

Most tours don’t require any previous climbing experience. However you want to make sure that you can tolerate heights. The activity is adrenaline-boosting, but also safe.

The gear you’ll need, such as a helmet, shoes, hiking apparel which allows you to move freely, and of course the belts and such that you’ll hook up to are all super simple to find. Any special equipment should be provided to you by the touring company with which you choose to do your Via Ferrata.

5 Best Places In The World To Do Via Ferrata

1) Ouray Via Ferrata – Ouray, Colorado

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Image: @ourayviaferrata on Instagram

Ouray is a small mountain community which features two world-class Via Ferratas. The Ouray Ferrata is open to the public. You can book for small or large groups and enjoy anywhere from two to four hours traversing their epic routes.

2) The Dolomites – Italy

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Image: @dolomitemountains on Instagram

The Dolomites Via Ferrata experience is awe-inspiring and… really high. The tracks run through a rocky terrain that’s equipped with metal stepladders, as well as wires which make the trip challenging but fun. There are several tours to choose from, and your guide will determine your route based on your skill and capacity, as well as your desired experience!

3) Telluride, Colorado

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Image: @outsidenomad on Instagram

A 3-mile loop trail runs near Telluride and offers incredible chances to see wildlife and experience incredible views. However, only experienced climbers are encouraged to take this adventure. The trail is mostly used for rock climbing and hiking, and is at its best from May to October.

4) Mount Kenya

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Image: @kublai_khanz on Instagram

Mt. Kenya National Park officially holds the world record for the highest Via Ferrata. It’s 16,355 feet above sea level, and is run in part by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Check out Mount Kenya Adventures for details on how you can book in.

5) Whistler Peak, BC

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Image: @whistlerviaferrata on Instagram

Whistler itself offers so many incredible mountain experiences, and Via Ferrata is just one of them. The panoramic views of this experience will take your breath away. This is truly the best that Canada, B.C., and Whistler have to offer.

Wherever you choose to try Via Ferrata, do your research, go with reputable climbing companies, and have fun!

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