Telluride’s Via Ferrata put our limits to the test. Hanging off the side of a cliff hundreds of feet above the ground is meant for the fearless, yet calculated, risk-takers.
What is a Via Ferrata?
Via Ferrata translates from Italian as “iron road”. Iron paths have existed for centuries in the Alps to help connect villages to higher pastures. In World War I, vie ferrate (plural) were built for the Italian alpine military units to cross the Dolomite Mountains. While they are widely popular in Europe, there are only a handful of via ferrata routes in the United States. We tried our hand at via ferrata travel on Colorado’s route, in the picturesque little ski town of Telluride. This route crosses the southwest face of the Ajax Peak, elevation 12,785ft.
Below, you can see the iron bars that hang underneath a cable. Hanging from what feels like mountain-top monkey bars, the bravest hikers are able to traverse the side of the cliff while clipped into the cable above for safety.
Think you might have what it takes to walk the line? We’ve mapped out all the details for you.
How To Get There
Take Telluride’s Main Street to Bridal Veil Falls Road. If you’re driving a car with high clearance and four wheel drive you’ll be able to park at the top parking spot marked by the second green diamond on the map. The hiking trail starts right at this lot as you cross Ingram Creek.
Photo from Telluride Mountain Club
After a short approach hike and a few cable-tethered hiking sections, Kroger’s Bench sits on an open rocky ledge. This via ferrata is locally know as the “Krogerata” in honor of Telluride’s late explorer and climber Chuck Kroger who constructed the route in 2006 before losing his battle with cancer. In his memory, a plaque is hung above a bench where climbers can sit and rest before crossing over on to the “Main Event”.
The Main Event
The “Main Event” is the most exposed part of the route. Here, there are only iron bars to hold on to and swing across as you take in the sheer openness around you. These iron bars wrap around a buttress hundreds of feet above the ground until you reach another hiking section. As you cross, you can stop and enjoy the birds-eye-view of 365 foot Bridal Veil Falls.
- A via ferrata lanyard with energy absorbing arms OR two carabiners paired with climbing slings or runners (as pictured above). Be sure to always have one line attached to the cable. Unclip and move the carabiners around the bolted sections one at a time.
- MUSIC! Music is a Via Ferrata essential. When the only thing preventing a fall hundreds of feet to ground is a 3/8″ cable, nerves may start to creep up. Keep your brave face on with calming music that will have you feeling like a hero while you dangle off a cliff. The BRAVEN BRV-PRO is ultra-rugged and built for adventures like these.
- Hiking boots or approach shoes - Don’t wear Nikes or running shoes with worn out grip, the terrain is too technical and high-consequence to risk slipping.
- Helmet - There are rock climbing routes above and below the Via Ferrata traverse. Protect your head from rocks that may be kicked off above you and be careful not to kick off rocks on climbers below you.
How Long Is It?
2 miles round trip. The city recommends that you go on a there-and-back trek, turning around at the end of the cable and going back the way you came. This prevents accidentally trespassing on the private property that surrounds the area and drops you back off right at your car. The trek can take anywhere from 2-5 hours, so be sure to pack water a snack.
If you’re not a confident hiker or scramble, hire a guide and contact Telluride’s Mountain Club for more information.