VIA FER­RATA

West of 105 Magazine - - Outdoors -

ORIG­I­NALLY USED BY ITAL­IAN SOL­DIERS DUR­ING WWI TO TRA­VERSE THE DOLOMITE MOUN­TAINS, VIA FER­RATE ARE ES­SEN­TIALLY IRON RUNGS AT­TACHED TO THE SIDES OF MOUN­TAINS. THEY ARE NOW A COM­MON SITE WHERE THERE ARE SHEER-FACED WALLS. WEST OF 105 HAS THREE OF COLORADO’S FOUR.

GRAN­ITE VIA FER­RATA, BUENA VISTA

Arkansas Val­ley Ad­ven­tures orig­i­nally started run­ning com­mer­cial white­wa­ter raft­ing trips in Colorado 20 years ago. Ex­pan­sion into zi­plin­ing, fly fish­ing and guided hik­ing even­tu­ally led to via fer­rate. The Gran­ite Via Fer­rata just north of Buena Vista is the com­pany's most re­cent ex­pan­sion (trips started just this past sum­mer) and is the com­pany's sec­ond via fer­rata.

Set at the base of the Col­le­giate Range (the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of 14ers in the coun­try) and with views of the Arkansas River, Mosquito Range and the Sawatch Range, the three-hour course in­cludes cross­ing mul­ti­ple sus­pended bridges, a rap­pelling sec­tion, and even in­cor­po­rates zi­plin­ing in ad­di­tion to the ac­tual via fer­rata. Clim­bers must be at least 12 years old.

col­oradovi­a­fer­rata.com

MOUNT EVANS VIA FER­RATA, IDAHO SPRINGS

Just 40 min­utes west of Den­ver, AVA's first via fer­rata course is the Mount Evans Via Fer­rata. With in­cred­i­ble views of the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide and over­look­ing Chicago Creek, this course fea­tures a 50-foot free fall, sus­pended bridges, and a 70-foot rap­pel in ad­di­tion to the via fer­rata. Built in 2017, the trip is also around three hours and also has an age re­stric­tion of twelve years old.

col­oradovi­a­fer­rata.com

THE KROGER­ATA, TEL­LURIDE

Fi­nally, there is the Tel­luride via fer­rata. Free and open to the pub­lic, in­stal­la­tion be­gan in 2006 un­der some­what du­bi­ous le­gal cir­cum­stances by lo­cal ex­plorer and climber Chuck Kroger. A fierce ad­vo­cate when it came to ac­cess to lo­cal wilder­ness and peaks, Kroger first dis­cov­ered via fer­rate in Europe back in 1967. When he set­tled in Tel­luride, he de­cided to build one there. An ac­com­plished climber, Kroger fab­ri­cated the holds and then as­cended the sheer rock faces to in­stall them. The Kroger­ata, as it is af­fec­tion­ately called, is 1.5 miles long and will take an ex­pe­ri­enced climber around three hours to com­plete.

While you don't have to be an ex­pert climber to en­joy via fer­rate, it is al­ways bet­ter to have a guide or some­one who knows what they're do­ing to as­sist you. The good peo­ple at Tel­luride Moun­tain Club are more than happy to help with tips and ad­vice, but they also know the best peo­ple in the area to go to if you want a guide. Three com­pa­nies come highly rec­om­mended by Tel­luride Moun­tain Club: Moun­tain Trip, San Juan Out­door Ad­ven­tures, and Tel­luride Moun­tain Guides.

tel­luride­moun­tain­club.org

Pho­tos (op­po­site page) Gran­ite Via Fer­rata, credit: Katie Sch­nei­der with AVA Raft­ing & Zi­pline; (this page, all): Mount Evans Via Fer­rata, credit: Katie Sch­nei­der with AVA Raft­ing & Zi­pline

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