While Telluride might be best known for steep skiing and a plethora of summer festivals, this picturesque mountain town has numerous “off the grid” outdoor opportunities – from hiking, climbing, to the once obscure via ferrata that mixes a little bit of both.
As the name implies, a via ferrata is an Italian innovation developed in the Alps and Dolomites in the 19th Century. Essentially, a via ferrata is an iron cable stretched across a high rock wall with iron rungs affixed to the mountainside as steps. Using a climbing harness and via ferrata kit, you can clip into the cable and traverse an otherwise impassible stretch of mountains. During the First World War, over one hundred via ferratas were built in the Dolomites for soldiers to move supplies and munitions through the mountains.
Situated at the far end of Telluride’s box canyon under Ajax Peak, the via ferrata offers incredible views of town and Bridal Veil Falls. By comparison, the Telluride via ferrata is quite a bit shorter, but the “Main Event” will certainly give you a taste of the real deal. Hikers must traverse a short section of the wall using the iron rungs as foot holds. There is maximum exposure here, with a significant drop to the canyon floor below.
In recent years the via ferrata has become quite popular. There are now several guide services that can help you experience this incredible adventure. Because this trip requires quite a bit of hiking, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and remember your eNZees to prevent blisters!