Trip Recommender

Find Your Perfect Adventure

Ready to Try a Via Ferrata? Here’s What to Know

woman jumping off via ferrata course flight line

As we approach Fall, exciting opportunities for outdoor adventure only continue, with a Via Ferrata course at the top of our list. Scramble the cliffside, and experience Colorado’s beautiful Fall foliage from high above the trees!

woman on Via Ferrata course, high above trees

What is a Via Ferrata?

A Via Ferrata is a horizontal climbing route that includes steel cables, iron rungs, and ladders fixed to the rock face. Climbers scale the cliffside with these assisted climbing features, clipping in and out along the cliff. This ensures that climbers remain secured to the course at all times. 

Clip in and out of the Via Ferrata course

 The cables and other fixtures, such as iron rungs, pegs, carved steps, ladders, and bridges, provide footing and handles, in addition to the cliffside holds. This allows you to climb on what would otherwise be a more advanced and dangerous course. Via Ferrata courses indicate where to place your hands or feet throughout the entire adventure and require less technical climbing knowledge than traditional climbs.

Before you tackle your first Via Ferrata course, here are some crucial points to consider: 

Fitness and Physical Preparedness:  

Like any outdoor activity, it’s essential to evaluate your physical condition. Via Ferratas are generally less challenging technically than rock climbing, yet can still prove demanding. AVA’s guided adventures are suitable for most over the age of 12, yet we recommend you have enough physical fitness to climb several flights of stairs, as well as stay moving for up to 3 hours.

Unguided climbs can be more strenuous, and it is important to assess your physical capabilities, especially if undertaking an unguided adventure. 

woman jumping in the mountains

Understand the Grading System:  

Via Ferratas are graded based on their difficulty. While the grading systems can vary by country, they assess the level of exposure, technical difficulty, and the physical demands of the route. Familiarizing yourself with the grading system for the Via Ferratas you wish to climb can help you choose a route that matches your comfort and skill level. 

Appropriate Gear is Crucial:  

A basic Via Ferrata kit includes a helmet, harness, and a lanyard with two leashes to connect to the iron cable. Gloves also improve grip and protect against metal fixtures. AVA provides all necessary gear for your adventure, utilizing only regularly inspected equipment that meets safety standards. AVA additionally requires guests to wear closed-toed sturdy shoes, and we recommend pants or longer shorts to maximize comfort while wearing the harness. If pursuing an unguided climb, make sure you bring, and understand how to use, all necessary equipment. 

Close up on man climbing Via Ferrata course

Choose Guided vs. Self-guided:  

For beginners, a guided Via Ferrata trip is generally the best option. A guide can provide safety instructions, offer technique tips, and provide a calming presence as you move along the course. AVA’s guides even surpass industry standards when it comes to the number of training hours completed and are required to train under supervision of a more experienced guide before leading their own adventures!  It’s safe to say, with our guided Via Ferrata adventures, you beginners through advanced climbers are in safe hands!

 Respect the Mountain Environment:  

Just like hiking or climbing, it’s vital to minimize your impact on the environment. This includes sticking to the established path, not leaving behind trash, and not disturbing the local flora and fauna. AVA’s Via Ferrata courses are built directly into the cliffside, meaning they really are an integral part of the area’s landscape! Please remember to dispose of all trash at our outposts, and follow your guide, as they lead you through the area’s trails. 

Buena Vista Zipline

Safety First:  

Always keep safety in mind. Stay attached to the cable, especially in exposed sections. If you feel unsure or unsafe at any point, communicate with your group or guide. And remember, conditions in Colorado’s mountains can change rapidly. Check the weather forecast and be prepared for unexpected weather, including rain, cold, or even snow. We recommend carrying a raincoat with you, as sudden afternoon storms can be common in the mountains. 

Start Simple:  

As with any new adventure sport, it’s wise to start with a less challenging route and progress from there. This allows you to get acquainted with the unique challenges of Via Ferrata climbing without becoming overwhelmed. 

Stay Within Your Limits:  

The beauty of a Via Ferrata is that it makes the thrill of mountain climbing accessible to many. However, this does not mean you should get overconfident. Recognize your limits and do not be pushed into doing a route you are not comfortable with. If you have any questions or ever feel uncomfortable on the course, do not hesitate to let your guide know – they are there to help! 

guide giving thumbs up to guests

A Via Ferrata offers a unique blend of hiking and climbing, allowing adventurers to reach new heights, both literally and metaphorically. With the right preparation, respect for safety protocols, and an appreciation for the mountainous environment, it can be an exhilarating experience. If you have been intrigued by mountain adventures but are not ready for full-fledged climbing, a Via Ferrata could be the perfect introduction.  

AVA’s Guided Via Ferrata Course Opportunities

For beginners, a guided Via Ferrata course is often the best choice! With highly trained guides ready to assist you as you conquer the cliffside, AVA offers not one, but two different exciting opportunities to try out a Via Ferrata course. Our outpost in Buena Vista, Colorado offers a newly updated Granite Via Ferrata, complete with a thrilling 80-foot freefall. This course is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Summit County and a little over 2 hours from Denver. 

woman jumping from flight line

 AVA’s other exciting Via Ferrata course is the Mount Evans Via Ferrata in Idaho Springs, only 30 minutes from Denver and a little under an hour from Summit County. Both courses reap stunning views alongside a uniquely thrilling climbing experience.  

Granite Via Ferrata (Buena Vista, Co) 

The Granite Via Ferrata in Buena Vista consists of an exciting climbing experience on the area’s unique granite cliffside. You will climb across iron rungs, walk a tightrope, and experience a stomach dropping 80-foot freefall with the area’s best views of the Collegiate Peaks Mountain Range and the Arkansas River the entire way! This is AVA’s more challenging and exposed course, requiring a minimum age of 12, a minimum weight of 75 lbs, and a maximum weight of 250lbs. 

Unique Features include: 

  • Jungle bridges 
  • Assisted rock climbing
  • Rappels  
  • Cliffside traverse
  • 80-foot freefall 
  • Ziplines 

Mount Evans Via Ferrata (Idaho Springs, CO) 

Older male ziplining with mountains in the background

AVA’s Mount Evans Via Ferrata in Idaho Springs represents a similar, yet slightly less strenuous assisted climbing experience. With a minimum of 12 and weight requirements between 50 and 250 lbs, this course offers adventurers of all levels the opportunity to climb Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Scramble high above historic Idaho Springs and the Chicago Creek and even soar on several lines from AVA’s zipline course!

  • Ziplines 
  • Jungle bridges  
  • Rappels
  • Cliffside climbs

Guided by AVA’s expert guides, you cannot go wrong with either Via Ferrata experience. Both courses will leave you with a sense of amazement with your physical capabilities, as well as the surrounding scenery. Read more about everything to know before your Via Ferrata adventure and gear up for your epic fall adventure! Book your adventure here today.

Guided vs. Unguided Via Ferratas: Which is Right for You?
The Biggest Thrill? Our Guides Debate

Tags: , , , ,