Want to crank the adventure-o-meter to eleven?
Arapahoe Basin in Summit County, Colorado, just opened a new via ferrata – a fixed climbing route with iron rungs and cables – on its towering East Wall, and it’s the highest one in North America, with views of the Continental Divide.
Via Ferratas (Italian for ”iron paths”) were first used by soldiers during World War I to cross the Alps. Today they’re recreational routes that allow steel-nerved adventurers to creep along cliff walls while wearing a harness clipped to a fixed cable. They’re particularly popular in Europe; Italy has more than 400 of them. Now they’re popping up around the United States. Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado; Tahoe, California; Taos, New Mexico; and Zion, Utah, all have via ferratas.
Two summers ago, my knees clacked like castanets as I inched along the via ferrata high above the mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. I could barely look down as I clung to a sheer, 330-foot wall. I hired a guide for that adventure, but in Telluride, anyone with the proper gear can access the route. There are no fences or gates limiting access. (But hire a guide, please. It’s not for the faint of heart or beginners.)
Unlike the route above Telluride, the A-Basin route does not have open access. To climb it, you must book a tour with a local guide and use their equipment. Both half-day and full-day tours are available, and include a chairlift ride and climbing equipment, plus a bit of a history lesson. Cost is $175 for four hours or $225 for six hours.
For a glimpse of Arapahoe Basin’s new route, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S93uPa-tq9Q.
The route is open through Sept. 6. For more information go to https://www.arapahoebasin.com/summer-lp/.