The Iron Path: Via Ferrata in Telluride
High on the south facing cliffs of Telluride, Colorado’s Bridal Veil Basin is an outing that packs a punch and takes in some of the most scenic views in the United States. Or maybe we are just biased. A via ferrata, Italian for “iron path,” is a protected climbing/hiking route that uses steel cable affixed to rock, metal ladder rungs and rock holds to ascend and traverse through the mountains. Via ferratas were developed on the Italian and Austrian border during World War I as a way to transport troops and equipment through the Alps in a more secure way. The limestone rock of the Dolomites is ideal and provided many weaknesses and ledges in the high mountains for the routes to follow. Now they have become a popular activity for inexperienced climbers with a good head to enjoy.
Telluride’s own version travels across a weakness in a conglomerate cliff face and overlooks the town of Telluride, the world famous Bridal Veil Falls, and the incredible peaks of the San Juan Mountains. The route at times is a narrow hiking trail and at others crosses a sheer cliff face 600 feet over the valley floor. Climbers use the fixed gear and climbing safety equipment, including a via ferrata lanyard, to attach themselves to the cables. The “Krogeratta,” named after a late, beloved Telluride local and route developer, is a way to experience history and push your limits on an exploit that is within most reasonably fit, outdoor enthusiasts’ ability. It takes only about half a day to complete. This technical hiking/climbing adventure does require some technical gear as mentioned previously, but is not limited to only the experienced. Interested parties with limited experience may hire a trained guide through one of the local professional guiding services in order to provide instruction and access to the proper equipment. Climbers with experience and proper equipment are encouraged to take on the challenge alone. In addition to the awe-inspiring views, Telluride’s mining history is present along the route. Remnants of old bunk houses, mill buildings, and aerial trams dot the landscape.
Climbing ability and age does not matter if the participants are tall enough to reach the rungs and cable and focus for the entirety of the route. This makes the via ferrata the perfect outing for family, friends, or a solo mission. Should a member of your group decide not to partake you won’t be stumped for alternative outdoor activities. Telluride is incredibly family friendly and is home to copious amounts of world class mountain biking and hiking trails for all ability levels. This unique summertime adventure is sure to not disappoint!