This mountain sport has it’s routes in history. During the First World War, the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies fought against each other on the vertical walls of mountains. In order to succeed, they had to fix iron ladders and wire cables to the rock, often under enemy fire. These cable ways that allowed tropes the reach positions in which to define high mountain passed are now opportunities for the active outdoor enthusiast enter mountainous terrain that once was reserved for rock climbers. In the 1980s these relics of the wars were rusting and unreliable, but the popularity of these adventures have lead to the restoration of historic Via Ferratas and the creation of new routes.
In German speaking regions these are called kletterstige and Switzerland has embraced many new and ambitious routes, however the heart of Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron route”) is in the Italian Dollomites. A Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route with a steel cable which runs along the way and is periodically (every 3 to 10 metres) fixed to the rock. A Via Ferrata can vary in length from short routes taking less than an hour, to long, demanding routes covering significant distance and altitude (1,000 metres or more of ascent taking eight or more hours to complete). In certain areas, such as the Dolomites, it is possible to link several Via Ferrata together, staying overnight in mountain refuges, and so undertake extensive multi-day climbing tours at high altitude.
Difficulty: Routes of various grades
Fitness Level: Medium