Ouray Via Ferrata
The Ouray Via Ferrata has two separate routes in the famed Uncompahgre Gorge, directly across from the Ouray Ice Park. The first is the Downstream Route, which travels north along an engaging and varied traverse above the river and along the cliffs of the gorge. The second is the Upstream Route, which travels south and offers a more traditional climbing experience. 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.
The Ouray Via Ferrata is open for the season! To make a reservation, please click below.
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), climbers on the Ouray Via Ferrata 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. It is a climbing-focused route, with 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 only a couple dozen 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 quite different adventure. The Telluride route has tremendous exposure traversing along the base of Ajax Peak many hundreds of feet above the valley below, while 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. Most of the Telluride route is not cabled, making it feel like a mountaineering objective or high alpine hike with serious air off one side. The Ouray route is entirely cabled, and requires lots of climbing up and down rungs, with elements built into the experience such as wire bridges and ladders that provide plenty of butterflies to the stomachs of most mortals.
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, which is even more technical. The Telluride Via Ferrata is rated 2b, so it is not very technical, but it has much more intimidating exposure, while the Ouray Via Ferrata has more actual climbing on rungs. So… which is harder? We’ll let you decide for 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.
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 daily by Via Ferrata Rangers, who help check people into the route, and ensure that everyone has the required 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 climber-to-guide ratio to be compliant with the Ouray Via Ferrata. This route mandates the use of a climbing harness, climbing helmet, via ferrata-specific force-reducing lanyard attachment (provided by Mountain Trip), and appropriate footwear. We suggest that participants bring along a daypack to carry water and snacks to last you the duration of the trip, sunscreen, 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 let us know if anyone in your group has less than a 62-inch reach, or weighs under 90 pounds or over 265 pounds. As of May 6, 2023, route regulations mention that participants who fall within these specifications are required to go with a guide as they may need an additional belay for the vertical climbing sections of the route.
- We ask that those with minors under 16 years of age book a private trip.
- Open trips require at least two 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.
- Participants must fit our rated equipment in order to participate on via ferrata trips. We use the Black Diamond Momentum Harness, which goes up to a 41-inch waist. If any individual does not fit the equipment we provide, they will not be able to attend.
If you have questions, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.