The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park opened its via ferrata in May 2019. Along with the park’s zipline and skycoaster, the addition of the via ferrata further marks the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park as an adrenaline-seeking destination.
Still, via ferrata’s are rare, so you may be asking yourself, “what is it?”
A via ferrata, Italian for “iron path,” is a secured climbing route up vertical, rock walls.
A steel cable runs from the bottom of the climbing route to the top and is fixed to the rock every few feet. Climbers can secure themselves to the cable, eliminating any fall.
Iron rungs, like steps, are also secured to the rock wall, so climbers can ascend the wall more easily than say, a traditional rock climber would. These rungs are like steps on a ladder and can act as foot or hand holds.
Thus, via ferratas allow otherwise dangerous routes to be undertaken without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing or the need for climbing equipment such as ropes.
They offer the relatively inexperienced a means of enjoying dramatic positions and accessing difficult peaks. The via ferrata can also be seen as a distinct step up from ordinary hiking. Conversely, the modest equipment requirements, ability to do them solo, and potential to cover a lot of ground mean that via ferratas can also appeal to more experienced climbers.
The origins of the via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but they are often associated with WWI when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops. Many more have been developed in recent years, as their popularity has grown and the tourism benefits have been recognized.
Try the via ferrata for yourself at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.