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Backpacker Magazine – August 2010

New Life List: Climb a Via Ferrata

Get a taste of the vertical alpine world--no experience required.

by: Michael Lanza

Touch the sky on Europe's Via Ferratas. (Patitucci Photo)
Touch the sky on Europe's Via Ferratas. (Patitucci Photo)

Want to live utterly in the moment? You could spend years learning to meditate, or you could spend seconds clinging to a rock face thousands of feet in the air. Up there, life is distilled to colors, scents, sounds—and the occasional joyous whoop. And even beginners can feel it on a via ferrata (iron cables and ladders bolted to rocks, which you clip into with a harness and ’biner). I’ve been climbing for 20 years, and thought it would be tame by comparison. Wrong. The exposure is real, but so is the safety. —Michael Lanza

Do it Italy’s 75-mile Alta Via 1, which winds through the sky-stabbing spires of the Dolomites. The eight- to 10-day trip starts near Lago di Braies, then roller coasters south over pink limestone ridges—with about 2,500 feet of elevation change a day. Sleep in alpine huts called refugios. Highlight: the Via Ferrata del Marmol, a sheer, 2,000-foot scramble. Go late June to late September; avoid August’s crowds.

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Igor Tavella
Jan 25, 2011

Dear readers, if you plan to take a trip in the Dolomites and would like to walk the Dolomites Alta Via #1 or do some via Ferratas, our travel company ( provides all what you need. You ca download the programs for the next summer 2011 from the following link:

Oct 08, 2010

Dear Anonymous,
You have no idea what you're talking about.

Oct 08, 2010

I take issue with saying the Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks Preserve needs to be "avoided like the plague." It is there as what it is: "A Via Ferrata" - a fixed climbing route with a built in safety system so that people WITHOUT technical rockclimbing skills can still enjoy the beautiful scenery and physicality of the rocks and the heights and the awesomeness of nature. I liken the comment/ridicule of the Via not being open to technical top-roping climbers (since it was bought) to an olympic equestrian athlete complaining that they can't go galloping through the private property of a guided trail ride business for people who may never have ridden horses before. If you want to experience the Via, then go experience the Via. If you want to climb independently, then go find the appropriate public place to do so. Or go purchase your own rockclimbing haven and open it to the public.

Oct 08, 2010

Don't you love Anonymous posts? Nelson Rocks was owned by an attorney and family (the best release of liability waiver EVER!). A tremendous amount of effort putting in a stainless steel via ferrata was done by the family and friends, second to none! The rock there was very tenuous and a very serious accident occured on the rock climbs. The family decided that the risk of further accidents on the friable rock was not worth it, from an emotional stand point. That's why they closed it and that's why they sold it.

Aug 12, 2010

Ya Nelson has via Farreta but needs to be avoided like the plague! The family that owned it was supposed to all climber minded then they SOLD OUT to some major corporation and they closed it to the public. Given Senaca is 30 min away it's not to bad but when it was to busy Nelson was a good back up so if your a climber boycot Nelson.

Aug 12, 2010

You can do a via ferrata right here in the US at Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata in West Virginia.


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