Climbing Via Ferrata in Rocky Mountain National Park

The History of Climbing Via Ferrata in The Rockies

 Climbing can be a very exciting sport, yet extreme and physically demanding at the same time. Others may try it out that one time, and give up, especially if they’ve got a fear of heights. But if you’re prepared for it, climbing can be all the fun you ever imagined; and it’s not just the sense of fulfillment and the sprawling view you get at the top. It’s the entire thing, the climbing most of all. As usual, everything worth doing is worth doing right. If you want to climb, then you’ve got to climb the right way.

Whenever you think of getting to the summit of a rock, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Climbing, right? You’re not far from the truth. But maybe that’s why you keep thinking rock climbing is a sport cut out for only Spartans. This may sound like stuff coming from a nutcase, but even rock climbers know that there are alternate ways to scale a rock than climbing, and one of them is via Ferrata.

Via Ferrata is a word of Italian origin that means “iron path.”  It is a route across the mountain that’s been made safe and easier for climbers. Routes like this have equipment like steel cables, ladders, metal steps, zip wires, and suspension bridges attached to the surface of the rock. All you’ve got to do is clip your harness to whatever equipment is fixed to the rock and begin climbing. It’s not even necessary to pack as much safety gear as other folks do, because you’re mighty covered already. So, you get to climb and do that without feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the world along with you. 

Do you know what this means for those who want to climb and are scared of all the grit that’s involved? It means you don’t have to be a pro to have fun and take cozy pictures while climbing. Look at the via ferrata as a get-to-the-top-quick kind of scheme.

The via ferrata is intriguing and ‘life-saving’, but what’s even more interesting is how it came to be the perfect alternative to scaling rocks with bare hands and natural ledges. Everything’s got a story, and the story behind this technique of climbing goes as far back as the First World War when ferrata gained prominence.

This doesn’t mean that the ferrata hadn’t existed until the First World War; it just wasn’t in popular use until then. The first incident of climbing with a more secure aid was in 1492 when a French captain reported that he’d accessed the top of Mount Aguille with a ladder. What a feat that must’ve been then, or cowardice; who knows? But that’s by the way.

It wasn’t until 1880 that the guides from Madonna di Campiglio had the initiative to construct the first ferrata. They ran this east of the Cima Brenta to make climbing a piece of cake for their clients. Perhaps, they’d grown tired of losing so many to treacherous falls from the alps.

Then came the First World War, and the proliferation of the Ferrata. Lots of structures (Ferrata) were built into the Dolomites to facilitate the movement of troops across the mountains. Though the via Ferrata was used as a medium to visit death upon villages and people, its more advantageous uses led to its modernization after the World War. Now, it’s exclusively a sport, with more advanced equipment to enhance safety and movement. It’s so safe that even eight-year-olds can use it.

Though you don’t need prior rock-climbing experience to climb via Ferrata, it’s not a magical route on the mountain. Being harnessed to ladders, suspension bridges, or metal cable rails, isn’t enough. You still need to play your part. For one, someone with acrophobia will know that via Ferrata makes absolutely no difference. Although it does cross out that part of you plummeting to the ground should you lose your nerve. Still, that’s no fun, and it kind of defeats the idea of climbing via Ferrata. Via Ferrata is also not advisable if you’re not in good physical health condition.

If you’re worried that via Ferrata is going to make climbing as easy as falling off a log, then it’ll interest you to know that there are varying levels of difficulty to climbing via Ferrata. There are routes for the fainthearted and those for people who want something a little Augean. These routes differ on levels of difficulty by how precipitous the rock is, and the number of holds along the route. It can take you a minimum of one to more than eight hours to complete the routes, depending on how easy or difficult they are.

Regardless of how difficult or easy a route is, bad weather conditions are a capital bummer for about anything on the planet. It can take you from fun to disaster in one moment, and that’s why you’ve got to choose a proper time when the weather’s good to climb via Ferrata. Summer is number one on the list of good times. Apart from the sun, the weather’s always clear. Spring and autumn are also ideal times. If you’ve ever slipped across the ice in winter, then you’ll know why climbing via Ferrata isn’t safe in the winter.

Climbing via Ferrata may not need as much gear as usual rock climbing, but you need a set of equipment nonetheless. Primarily, what you’ll need is safety gear. But you could also bring clothes, food, first aid, drinks, you know, the normal stuff you take along when hiking. If you want to climb via Ferrata this summer, or at any other time of your choosing, these are the equipment you should have before taking any routes:

  • Carabiners
  • A via Ferrata set
  • Climbing Harness – it can be a sitting harness or a full-body harness. But the sitting harness beats the full-body harness as far as comfort is still a thing on the list. However, if your kid’s climbing with you, you’d want to put them in the full-body harness to prevent them slipping off, as can be the case in a sitting harness.
  •  Helmet – of the three types, the hardshell helmet is preferable. If you’re going for protection, it makes sense, that you should go for the most efficient, doesn’t it? Especially if falling down a height is involved.
  • Ferrata shoes – you can’t use via Ferrata with your sneaker shoes. They’re comfy on the ground; up the via Ferrata routes you need something that can give you a bit of traction
  • Ferrata gloves.

With your gear complete, you can decide to climb via Ferrata on your own you can do that with a guide. If it’s your first time climbing, you’d need the services of a guide to direct you through the techniques, procedures, and movements involved.

Employing the services of a guide is not exclusive to safety reasons. Climbing via Ferrata in Estes Park can be more than just a physical effort. It can be a tour for you, and who better to provide intriguing and revelatory insights into the mountainside than someone familiar with the terrain.

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