A via ferrata is essentially a way of enabling access to mountainous areas that would normally only be accessible to experienced mountaineers or rock climbers. It’s a metal cable that’s pinned at intervals to a mountain or rock face and to which a climber attaches themselves using special equipment that’s designed to work with the cable to prevent a long fall. There’s also a mixture of attachments to the rock to make climbing easier and these can include stemples (i.e. giant, metal stables), ladders, wire bridges, cargo nets and zip wires. All this metal makes the term via ferrata (i.e. “iron road”) pretty apt.
The story that is usually given for the origin of via ferrata is that they were originally built to help move troops and equipment in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps in Italy) during World War I. While this is certainly the origin of many via ferrata in the Dolomites, I’ve read that via ferrata were being used to aid alpine ascents before the war. Whatever the case, the Dolomites are often seen as the birthplace of via ferrata and the home of many of the classic routes. Many of the old wartime routes have been restored and new routes added. There has also been an expansion in via ferrata around the world in recent years, with via ferrata in countries including Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, the USA and Canada.
On this blog I describe my own adventures on via ferrata and tried to pull together useful information on via ferrata. You can look at my top ten via ferrata tips, suggestions for those starting out on via ferrata and links to good websites with further via ferrata information.. There are also reviews of some campsites I have used in the Dolomites and which are convenient for via ferrata. I welcome any further useful information on via ferrata that people would like to share.
I hope you find this useful and have fun climbing via ferrata.
Please be safe in the mountains.