VIA FERRATA

Telluride’s Via Ferrata has evolved from underground status to a hugely popular and well-used route. Even if some of its sections seem more like an exposed hiking trail than a rock climb, make no mistake, this climbing route requires technical climbing abilities and gear. An accident on this route could easily have fatal consequences, and even a sprained ankle can quickly become a serious event and potentially a major rescue. If you have any doubts about your abilities, please hire a local guide to take you for a more enjoyable (and less stressful) experience.

If you have anything to report about the route, such as loose holds, maintenance concerns, changes in the route or other info, please Contact Us.

MAP

Where

Telluride’s Via Ferrata is located at the east end of the box canyon on the south-facing wall below Ajax Peak. To access it, drive up the Bridal Veil Falls Road or park at the bottom and walk up. There are two access points, lower and upper. It is about a ½-mile from the bottom parking area near the mine settling ponds to the lower trail head, and 1.75 miles to the upper trail head. Please refer to the ‘Map’ tab for more information about access points, private property to avoid, and suggested parking locations.

When

The best time of year to do the Via Ferrata is in the spring, summer and fall. Make sure to watch the weather forecast as there is no option for escape once you are on the route. Telluride typically experiences rain in the afternoons early July through mid-August so plan accordingly. You do not want to be stuck on the Via Ferrata in rain, snow or other nasty weather.

Parking

Telluride’s Via Ferrata is located at the east end of the box canyon on the south-facing wall below Ajax Peak. To access it, drive up the Bridal Veil Falls Road or park at the bottom and walk up. There are two access points, lower and upper. It is about a ½-mile from the bottom parking area near the mine settling ponds to the lower trail head, and 1.75 miles to the upper trail head. Please refer to the ‘Map’ tab for more information about access points, private property to avoid, and suggested parking locations.

How-to

Telluride’s Via Ferrata can be accessed from either its east end or west end trail heads for a loop, or out-and-back adventure. Please respect private property on the west end of the Via Ferrata and don’t trespass on the lower Marshall Creek Road. During high-traffice times (i.e. summer weekends), please utilize an east to west loop.

Best Practices

If you encounter another group along the route, which is more likely than not, let the group with the fewest number of people go through first. Be sure to peer around edges or holler before you start the “Main Event”. If another group is going the opposite direction to yours, you may need to wait or back-climb in order for them to pass.

Make sure you have the correct gear when heading out on Telluride’s Via Ferrata, having the wrong gear can put you in an unsafe situation.

There has been a dangerous trend in the use of aid climbing daisy chains and static webbing as safety tethers to attach to the cables. Recent tests by Black Diamond and other groups have shown that this type of tether system can fail under much smaller forces than thought. A dynamic Via Ferrata lanyard is the safest method of connecting yourself to the route’s fixed gear and is considered the worldwide standard for safe Via Ferrata travel. Check out Daisy Chain Dangers for more information.

Local gear shop Jagged Edge Mountain Gear sells all the right equipment for safe travel along the Via Ferrata. They can be reached at 970.728.9307 so you can make sure everything you need is in stock.

We recommend the following:

Climbing harness, helmet, via ferrata specific lanyard (with shock absorbing arms), at least three locking carabiners, hiking shoes, a snack and water. Bringing along a headlamp and rain gear is also highly advised, just in case.

If you don’t have the proper gear or climbing experience, we highly recommend hiring a local guide service. Guides provide all the proper equipment for safe travel and are very familiar with the route and local weather.

The Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) encourages safe and responsible enjoyment of this climbing route. Please consider the following:

Beware of Knocking Rocks Off the Trail

There are several areas on this route that traverse above popular rock climbing routes far below. If you accidentally kick loose a rock, make sure to yell “Rock!”.

Use a Dynamic Safety Device

Use a safety device specifically designed for Via Ferrata travel. These are available locally at Jagged Edge Mountain Gear.

Wear a Helmet

You are below a huge alpine mountainside. Even a marble-sized rock could ruin your whole day, or worse.

Choose the Right Partners

This climbing route is not appropriate for small children, very short adults, or people who don’t enjoy heights and exposure. And don’t even think about bringing your dog.

Always Clip Into the Cable

Always clip into the cable when it is available. Make sure to always have two points of connection with the cable and yourself (when it is an option).

Watch the Weather

There are no options for escape off of this route and getting caught in a lightning storm up there will be stressful at best and potentially dangerous. Rain, snow and hail increase natural rockfall from above and often create waterfalls across the trail that must be crossed under.

Bring a Headlamp

Bring a headlamp if you think there is any chance of being up there in the dark. A small stumble in the dark would likely have fatal consequences.

Let Others Know

Tell a trustworthy person where you are going and when you plan to return.

Respect Private Property

Telluride’s Via Ferrata can be done as a loop, or an out-and-back adventure. Please avoid trespassing on private property near the route’s western edge. If you have anything to report about the route, such as loose holds, maintenance concerns, changes in the route or other info, please Contact Us.