I really don’t know how else to put it.
After not climbing for 6 months – due to winter. We always like to start the season of with a little Via Ferrata to get us in the mood and does it ever work! This thrilling 800m climb looking over Abraham Lake is a great intro into climbing, making sure your okay with lots of exposure and how to be comfortable hanging off the side of a cliff!
If your unfamiliar with the Via Ferrata it is a series of iron steps, anchors formed into a latter sequence followed with a steal cable leading over a vertical cliff. Originally designed in the alps to help mountaineers in world war I to climb over sections of mountains in that were deemed unclimbable.
The great thing about this is anyone can do it!! If you can climb a ladder you can Via Ferrata. You will need the proper equipment! The most important piece being a proper suspension lanyard. As this is not rock climbing, there are no ropes used. Just a harness and helmet. The suspension lanyard is used to absorb the impact of falling 10ft if you missed your step – heaven forbid because this would seriously hurt. Falling that distance using a regular cable system could literally cut you in half. So if your going without a guide – as you can on this route. Make sure you have the right equipment, you can order the lanyard on the line for under $100.
My favourite thing about Via Ferrata is the distance you gain in such a short time. It usually takes a group of 4-5 of us an hour and a half one way and the reward is stunning views of the lake. The return is the weirdest part though, after about 5 or 6 times doing this, we have yet to find a concrete way down. We usually end up just|”brush whacking” down some game trails until we hit the horse trail that leads to the car. Seriously, quite funny and never the same so it does keep it interesting lol. We have never been “lost” as you can see the Valley and your clearly headed downward. However, I cant help but feeling we keep missing the trail. (let me know if you know the answer to this!)
This was the first thing I tried in aspects of climbing as it doesn’t really require any technical skills but gives you the thrill of using your whole body, securing your steps and hand placements while feeling safe and in control. I recommended trying this with an experienced climber or hiring a guide even before hitting some single pitches.
There are guided tours for Via Ferrata in Banff, Jasper & Nordegg! So if this is something your interested in, I would highly recommend giving it a try!
Get your specialized, quality outdoor gear from the knowledgable staff at