The Via Ferrata, Italian for “iron road”, has historical beginnings in the 19th century as a pathway through mountainous terrain used for transport of troops in the First World War through the Dolomites of Italy.
While its first uses were strictly for function of accessing rugged terrain, the via ferrata has evolved into adventure seekers’ rite of passage to cliff dangling and climbing.
Many via ferratas exist across the globe.
Not only does Telluride boast one of its very own, it makes the Fodor’s Travel list of the World’s Top 10 Best Via Ferrata Routes.
The Telluride Via is unique in that its route is a horizontal traverse along the cliffside overlooking town, rather than the traditional vertical routes generally found. This truly special iron road not only provides a physical challenge and adrenaline rush, it also bridges generations, strengthens friendships and builds confidence while simultaneously conquering fears.
While the Via Ferrata requires physical exertion, it is primarily a mental challenge and exercise in concentration.
In our busy world, it is common to find your mind wandering amongst many thoughts. The ability to multitask is considered a strength and means to success. The Via Ferrata requires a different approach. When engaging in a walk across the iron road, focus is dedicated to the act of clipping and unclipping while traversing the rungs. There is no space nor time for invasive thoughts of other matters, as this concentration is necessary in order to effectively and safely complete this route. Clip, step, unclip, clip, step. Trust the rung. Look around at the sweeping views over the town of Telluride and take in the magnitude of the surrounding peaks. Don’t look down unless you have the utmost mental capacity to stomach heights.
A local father and son recently undertook the ambition of completing this traverse.
Immediately following their experience, it was evident that this was far more than an afternoon climb for both. The 70 year old who has spent the last 38 years living in Telluride and hiking most of the San Juan mountain terrain had never attempted the Via Ferrata. His son, who was born and raised here, was a seasoned vet. They both had similar observations on the technical aspects of the route, “It’s a walk in the park until you get to the jungle gym at height, and then a walk in the park.” This may be an understatement of the actual difficulty, but nevertheless, the unspoken statement was the strengthened bond between them. Despite their physical age difference, they both lived the moment with laser focus seperately, but together. Not to mention dad is hooked and already plotting to wrangle his friends for the adventure and bonding experience.
The Via Ferrata is a spectacular event. But, don’t be fooled, this isn't for the faint of heart.
It is imperative to remember that while most people are physically capable of completing the Telluride Via Ferrata, the task can be mentally taxing. If this is your first attempt, find an experienced leader you trust. Whether you know a local who can take you out and show you the ropes, or you opt to hire a professional guiding outfit, don’t go at it alone. Once you have the Via under your belt, you can aspire to pilot your friends and family through the escapade. This will provide for another perspective on the experience. Or you can chose to let this be your once in a lifetime notch.
Either way, the Telluride Via Ferrata is sure to be a personally altering adventure. And best of all, you can find it here, stateside in the Rockies, while enjoying the many other activities and events Telluride has to offer!