The Via Ferrata is a pretty new sport to the United States, due in part to the United States government-imposed bans that outlawed permanent climbing anchors specifically the Wilderness Act of 1964 which made for a lot of red tape in many places. For those of you that aren’t too familiar with a via ferrata, it first was used frequently during World War I in the Dolomites to help soldiers’ traverse across the rough mountain terrain. They routes were equipped with cables, rungs, ladders, and bridges. As the climber, you are always attached to the cable system, in part to a special clip-in system.
The first via ferrata in the United States was built in Torrent Falls Red River Gorge, Kentucky, in the horseshoe shaped canyon. It has six different sections with four different levels of difficulty starting form easy to expert. Each section has an exit point where they can make their way back to the facility. The easier sections do not require as much strength as the more advanced sections do, specifically upper body strength. Some awesome feature includes a 120-ft perch and a section of the climb that goes behind a seasonal waterfall.
The second Via Ferrata to open in the United States is Nelson Rocks in West Virginia. You gain over 1000 ft in elevation, there is suspension bridge that is 150 ft high and 200 ft long. The trip is around 3.5 hrs. long, they also offer full-moon tours as well. There are also 2 escape points if it were to become too difficult for you.
In Colorado the Telluride Via Ferrata was one of the first in Colorado. Chuck Kroger starting building the via ferrata more than a decade ago. He often worked alone and sometimes at night as well to install his masterpieces in the darkness. It was kept a secret for a while and the locals called it the Krogerata, after the creator who passed away in the 2007. This via ferrata is unlike most others as it traverses horizontally instead of the typical vertical trek. The trail is about two miles long and is rated a grade IV. You have stellar views of the Bridal Veil Falls, Box Canyon, and breathtaking views of the city of Telluride.
Another new addition in Colorado is the Via Ferrata in Buena Vista. The newest addition to Via Ferratas is the Granite Via Ferrata. It has an awesome mixture of ladders, cables, rungs, bridges, and a 75 ft free-fall. You will enjoy great views of the Collegiate Peaks, The Arkansas River and Long Horn Sheep. This course is over 500 feet off the ground and is guided throughout the cliff traversing, rappelling, and ziplining.
Now with a little bit more knowledge on the via ferratas and how rare they really are, when you get that opportunity to do one, it is a must! Why would you not want to be part of the people to complete a via ferrata? If you happen to be in Colorado or thinking of traveling to Colorado be sure to check out www.coloradozipline.net or www.coloradorafting.net.