Ouray Via Ferrata

The Ouray Via Ferrata is Colorado’s newest adventure route, completed in spring 2020. The route travels an engaging and varied climbing course above the river and along the cliffs of the famed Uncompahgre Gorge. Mountain Trip is pleased to be the only Telluride-based guide service permitted to offer trips on both the Ouray Via Ferrata and the Telluride Via Ferrata.

To make a reservation, please click below.

Private Ouray Via Ferrata Trip Open Ouray Via Ferrata Trip

The Downstream Route

Utilizing both natural features and European-style amendments, including the 75-foot “Skybridge” (the first ladder-bridge of its kind in North America), on the Ouray Via Ferrata climbers spend essentially the entire route hanging from iron rungs while attached to a cable for protection, with movement constantly varying between vertical and horizontal terrain. The Ouray Via Ferrata now has two separate routes, and we most frequently guide the Downstream Route.

The route is directly across from the Ouray Ice Park, a world-class ice climbing attraction in the winter. The brainchild of passionate local climbers, the Ouray Via Ferrata was built in conjunction with savvy engineers and designers. Each element of the route has been meticulously tested and built to high international via ferrata standards, while also being fun and imaginative.

The Upstream Route

If you’re looking for an added challenge, the new Upstream Route of the Ouray Via Ferrata provides just that. A more climbing than traversing focused route, this climb offers fewer rungs and more natural rock features. Rock climbing experience or previous experience on the Downstream Route of the Ouray Via Ferrata is required for this trip. Check out the specifics by visiting the Ouray Via Ferrata website.

Ouray vs. Telluride

There are more than 1,500 different via ferrata routes across North America, and we’re lucky to host two of them in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. For those who have enjoyed the Telluride Via Ferrata, you’ll find the Ouray Via Ferrata to be a complimentary, but different, adventure. While the Telluride route gains elevation along the base of Ajax Peak high above the valley below, the Ouray Via Ferrata follows the course of the Uncompahgre River through a deep gorge, sometimes only a couple of feet above the sluicing rapids. While Telluride maintains the feeling of an adrenaline-laced, assisted airy traverse, the Ouray route feels more “physical”—more like a proper rock climb than an exposed hike.

On the Fletcher/Smith Italian Via Ferrata Rating scale, the Ouray Via Ferrata is rated as 4b, which means the route can be technical and physically challenging. The upstream route is rated 4.5b. By comparison, the 2b rated Telluride Via Ferrata has much more intimidating exposure, while the Ouray Via Ferrata has more actual climbing on rungs. But we’ll let you make the comparisons yourself!

The route, in length, travels only approximately 0.8 miles along the canyon wall, but typically takes between 3-4 hours to complete, and perhaps longer for larger groups.

The Details

Managed by Friends of the Ouray Via Ferrata and owned by the town of Ouray, the route was made possible by donations. The route is managed by a daily Via Ferrata Ranger, who helps check people into the route, ensures that everyone has the proper gear, and completes the route from south to north in one direction. Access is closed at the end of public daily hours.

Certain groups may require a greater guide ratio to be compliant with the Ouray Via Ferrata. Route regulations also mention that participants should have a 62-inch reach, and that those under 85 pounds and greater than 265 pounds may need an additional belay for the vertical climbing sections of the route. The route mandates the use of a proper climbing harness, helmet, via ferrata-specific load-limiting lanyard attachment (provided by Mountain Trip), gloves and proper footwear. We suggest that participants bring along a daypack to carry water and snacks to last you the duration of the trip, a rain jacket (just in case!) and a camera to capture special moments along the way.

Check out the Telluride Via Ferrata for another way to take in the splendor of San Juan high country from above.

Please Note: We ask that those with minors under 16 years of age book a private trip. Please let us know if anyone in your group is under 85 pounds or over 265 pounds, as via ferrata lanyards require certain considerations be taken for folks outside that weight range. Additionally, open Ouray Via Ferrata trips require at least three people to be signed up by the day before departure for the trip to run. In the case we don’t, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to a private trip should you still wish to attend. 

If you have questions, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.

Equipment List

The Ouray Via Ferrata is an amazing adventure, but it should be taken seriously, as it is a true alpine endeavor. The following equipment is required to join us on this fabulous guided service, but please note that Mountain Trip will provide all technical equipment, including all helmets, harnesses, and via ferrata lanyards.

Many of the items on the list need to fit you well in order for you to fully enjoy your experience on the trail. Please plan ahead with clothing and footwear purchased for your hike so you can be certain that your gear fits you well. Hanging from an iron rung is not the place to discover that your old raincoat is no longer waterproof or that your boots give you blisters.

Please follow this list closely and do not hesitate to call us for clarifications or to solicit an opinion about any gear you are considering. We want to make sure you are as prepared as possible for your trip.

Print Equipment

Footwear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Trekking Shoes or Boots for ColoradoComfortable, well broken in trekking shoes or lightweight boots will work for approaching climbs, the Telluride Via Ferrata or climbing 14ers. Good traction is important for all of the above. Contact our office for more detailed advice!

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Rain Jacket for ColoradoA rain shell can be your most important layer as we often experience afternoon showers during the summer months in Colorado. It should be packable and in good working order meaning that, in addition to being waterproof, it still has a functional water repellent finish and beads water on the surface of the fabric.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
SunglassesSunglasses are essential in the mountains. Choose a pair that are comfortable and provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Via Ferrata GlovesA thin pair of gloves will help keep your hands warm as the steel rungs and cables can be cold in the morning. Good dexterity is important for these gloves. We are happy to provide you with gloves if you do not have any with you.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Small Pack Colorado Day HikesDay hikes and the Via Ferrata require a small backpack or Camelback style hydration pack. It need only be large enough for a camera, water and light additional clothing layers for the day.

Other

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Two (2) One-Liter Water BottlesYou will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.
CameraMost climbers these days use their phone as a camera, but if you plan to bring a dedicated camera, consider a small, light weight point and shoot camera. If you are a photography buff and really want to bring a DSLR, plan for that extra weight with your training!
Lip BalmBring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).
SunscreenThe sun can be intense in Colorado, so please apply high SPF sunscreen prior to your trip and bring a small tube along to reapply during the day.
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