Ouray Via Ferrata
Colorado’s newest adventure route, recently completed in Spring 2020, winds an engaging and varied course climbing 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 Telluride Via Ferrata. Come and experience the excitement of this memorable, family-friendly outing with our experienced guides!
Register for Ouray Via Ferrata
Utilizing both natural features and European-style amendments, including the 75-foot “Skybridge,” first ladder-bridge of its kind in North America, 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 route is directly across from the Ouray Ice Park, a world-class ice climbing attraction in the winter. The brainchild of passionate local climbers and 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.
There are over 1,500 different via ferrata across North America, and we’re lucky to host two of these routes 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 rather 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 is quite technical and physically difficult. By comparison, while the Telluride Via Ferrata, rated as 2b, has much more intimidating exposure, 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 mile (1.25km) along the canyon wall, but typically takes between three to five 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 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, and that 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” 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.
We don’t have a strict age limit imposed, but please let the office know if you plan to join us with children under age 16 in your group so that we can discuss how we can provide your family the best possible experience.
Check out the Telluride Via Ferrata for another way to take in the splendor of high country of the San Juans from above.
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, etc.
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.
|Trekking Shoes or Boots for Colorado||Comfortable, 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!|
|Rain Jacket for Colorado||A 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
|Sunglasses||Sunglasses are essential in the mountains. Choose a pair that are comfortable and provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.|
|Via Ferrata Gloves||A 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
|Small Pack Colorado Day Hikes||Day 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.|
|Camera||Small, light weight point and shoot cameras are most popular among climbers. Be sure to bring extra memory and batteries!|
|Lip Balm||Bring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).|
|Water Bottles||The ability to carry 2 liters of water will help you stay hydrated throughout the day.|
|Sunscreen||The 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.|