Telluride Via Ferrata

For a breathtakingly unique adventure, look no further than the Telluride Via Ferrata. The route precariously traverses rock faces up to 600 feet above the forest floor below, and offers exhilarating exposure in sections that would be impassable without the fixed steel cables and holds along the way. The Telluride Via Ferrata provides unmatched views of Bridal Veil Falls (the highest free falling waterfall in Colorado), the town of Telluride in the distance, and the surrounding peaks of the San Juan Mountains.

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Private Telluride Via Ferrata Trip - Register Open Telluride Via Ferrata Trip - Register

What is the Telluride Via Ferrata?

Think of it as a trail hike that runs along a sheer cliff with steel rungs to hold onto when the going gets steep. In its essence, it is a high-consequence alpine traverse. Accompanied by a trained and experienced guide, the Telluride Via Ferrata is a perfect adventure for visitors of a wide range of abilities, albeit not particularly for those who have an abject fear of heights. Mountain Trip donates $5 from every guest’s trip to the Telluride Mountain Club to support their ongoing maintenance of the route as part of our participation in the Via Ferrata Sustainability Fund.

 

Why is it called a “Via Ferrata?”

“Via ferrata” is Italian for “iron way.” The original via ferratas were developed during WWI on the Italian and Austrian border to move troops through exposed, high-mountain terrain. Our Telluride Via Ferrata allows access to amazing alpine vistas and stands as a tribute to its visionary, the late Chuck Kroger, a local climbing legend. For another via ferrata adventure in the San Juans, check out the new Ouray Via Ferrata. Mountain Trip is the only Telluride-based company permitted to guide both routes.

 

Book a Trip!

Mountain Trip provides all technical equipment necessary to traverse the route, including helmets and harnesses, as well as specialized, load-limiting via ferrata lanyards. Bring the whole family for a five-star day trip, or add to the challenge by taking a direct multi-pitch rock climb right up to the start of the via ferrata. This option adds technical climbing for those looking for a bit more of a challenge. Whichever variation you choose, our experienced and highly trained guides will ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience. Please inquire with us at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153 about the option of doing a multi-pitch climb to reach the route.

Please Note: We do not provide transportation on Open Telluride Via Ferrata trips, and we ask that those with minors under 15 years of age book a private trip. Additionally, 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. 

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

Via Ferrata Sustainability Fund

The Route

The Telluride Via Ferrata is a high consequence alpine traverse that provides a unique and spectacular way to experience the high country of southwest Colorado. The route is not particularly strenuous and does not require climbing skills; however, it is a trail that follows a narrow ledge system on an immense cliff, so it does deserve a healthy dose of respect. The route has increased in popularity in recent years, and as part of our effort to reduce our impact on it, we are only offering half-day, one-way trips, starting at the east end and traversing to the west.

 

 

The Telluride Via Ferrata generally takes 4-5+ hours and we will plan to do the entire route from east to west, descending off the route on a hiking trail into the Marshall Creek drainage. The Telluride Via Ferrata is just over two miles long and roughly 30% of the route is protected with stainless steel cables, into which we clip purpose built, force-reducing lanyards for security. The remaining 70% is a good, single track trail, along which participants should expect to hike without necessarily being secured to the cliff. Our guides have a variety of ways to provide additional security to any climbers wishing for or needing it.

 

Does the route require previous climbing experience?

Not at all. The Telluride Via Ferrata was built to allow people with no technical climbing experience to access to big, high mountain terrain, even while traversing across sheer cliffs. It is a trail, not a climbing route, although it does have a level of exposure more often associated with rather extreme rock climbing. Unless someone has a debilitating fear of heights, anyone with a reasonable level of fitness (if you can hike roughly five miles) should have a great time on the route, with support, coaching and modeling from a trained guide.

How long will the Via Ferrata take and how far is it?

The route in its entirety will take at least four to five hours round-trip from the town of Telluride. We traverse the route from east to west and hike out on a short section of trail back to Bridal Veil Road. The total distance of the route is just over two miles. The hike up the fabulous Bridal Veil Trail to access the start of the route is one mile in length and gains 859 feet of elevation. We follow the Bridal Veil Road for just under another half-mile to the trailhead of the route.

What should I bring and wear?

You should plan to wear comfortable clothing similar to what you would wear for a half-day hike: athletic shorts or pants, a breathable shirt with an extra layer if the morning is chilly, as well as a rain jacket if it’s monsoon season. Pack a bottle of water, a snack, your camera and sunglasses. Sunscreen is best applied before you head up, so your hands aren’t greasy from applying lotion.

Is the route appropriate for my young children?

The answer to that question really depends on the child, as we’ve had countless youngsters impress us on the route. Kids (or adults) less than five feet in height will have difficulty making some of the reaches between rungs, but our guides can help mitigate that difficulty. We do require that families or groups with young children under the age of 15 book a private trip, as that will enable the guide to give kiddos more attention than if they were part of an open, mixed group. While young children may have challenges with some of the reaches, as long as they are able to pay attention, walk carefully and take coaching from the guide, they’ll probably have a great time.

What is the difference between open and private trips?

On a private trip, you will be just with your group and your guide; the meeting time and pick-up are up to you (as long as the weather is clear). You will have ultimate control over the composition of your group, which could give you more control over the outcome of the day. With an open trip, you will be joined by other climbers at no more than a 4:1 climber-to-guide ratio. While we will do our best to enable every participant the opportunity to complete the entire route, under certain circumstances, a team could have to turn back or be significantly delayed if one member of a group cannot negotiate the route.

How can I register other members of my group? The online sign-up only takes information for one person.

The way our online registration is organized, we only require information for the “trip leader,” or the person registering on behalf of the rest of the party. If there is anything in particular that you think your guide should know in advance about particular members of your party (e.g. medical conditions, prior injuries, fear of heights, apprehension, etc.), please list that in the notes section or let us know by calling our office at (970) 369-1153.

Is transportation included? Where can I park?

We do not provide transportation for open trips. Transportation is an option for private trips only. For summer 2022, we ask that you please meet your guide at the Bridal Veil Falls trailhead, sometimes referred to as the Valley View Parking area, where you can park for free. Your guide will work with you on a plan for the day of your trip.

Is gratuity included?

Guide gratuity is not included. Typically, if you had a good experience, a demonstration of your appreciation (approximately 10-20% of trip cost) is greatly appreciated by your guides. Of course we pay them a livable wage, but guiding is typically a tip-augmented profession, like many service industry jobs.

Do you offer a military discount?

You bet! We offer a 10% discount for active-duty military on all of our Via Ferrata trips, along with our gratitude for your service.

What happens if the weather is bad?

We are in the risk management business, so we carefully assess weather each day to decide if it could create a level of increased risk that is outside of our risk tolerance level. If we cancel the trip due to weather, we will refund you in full. In some circumstances, the weather could be less than desirable but does not affect or increase risk. In such cases, we would still launch a trip that day. We, Mountain Trip and our guides, reserve the right to make all weather-related decisions in regards to the cancellation of trips.

Do you rent via ferrata equipment?

Due to liability exposure, we do not rent any technical climbing equipment, including via ferrata gear. If you would prefer to traverse the route unguided, you can purchase the necessary equipment at the local gear shop, Jagged Edge. Via ferrata lanyards cost about as much as a guided trip across the route. If you are joining us on a trip and would like to purchase your own equipment, we have some from Jagged Edge that we can arrange for you to purchase at a discount.

 

The Telluride 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 hiking footwear gives 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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