Via Ferrata – The Iron Road

Day 14 since my latest operation feeling a bit better and my grand kids have gone and left a huge gap in my life how I miss them already. I was there as they got up every morning in Hopeman a wee village a few miles away and loved seeing them. Even though I was not on great form still very sore from my operation I had a wonderful few days. I cannot believe how I take this great country for granted the kids loved the beach saw the dolphins and reveled in the space, freedom and fresh air. Lexi was so excited seeing her first Dolphins just of the beach at Hopeman, she could not believe it how incredible is nature?  How much I missed  of Stephen and Yvette’s young life’s with my life in the mountains?    I am trying to  enjoy the kids now and better late than never. It will be a really hard few days now they have gone what a great joy they brought. I went for a walk locally and the signs of spring are everywhere the smell of the scurvy grass  was incredible along the local cliffs and sun brings out the best after a long winter.

My girls the best medicine.

My girls the best medicine.


I was looking at my trip to Italy with my stepson Stephen we decided to go to the Dolimites and have a go at the  Via ferrata. What a great trip it was as the climbs go up the great mountain cliffs and were an incredible insight into another world. I will write about our trip in the next few days. I so miss the mountains and hope to be back some day – positive thinking is the answer and patience. 


(Italian for “iron road”, plural vie ferrate or in English via ferratas) is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations. The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 3 to 10 metres (9.8 to 32.8 ft)) fixed to the rock. Using a via ferrata kit, climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. The cable can also be used as aid to climbing, and additional climbing aids, such as iron rungs (stemples), pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges are often provided. Thus via ferrata allow otherwise dangerous routes to be undertaken without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing or need for climbing equipment (e.g. ropes). They enable the relatively inexperienced a means of enjoying the dramatic positions and accessing difficult peaks normally the preserve of the serious mountaineer; although, as there is a need for some equipment, a good head for heights and basic technique, via ferrata can be seen as a distinct step up from ordinary mountain walking. Conversely, the modest equipment requirements, ability to do them solo, and potential to cover a lot of ground, mean that via ferrata can also appeal to more experienced climbers.

Via ferrata can vary in length from short routes taking less than an hour, to long, demanding alpine routes covering significant distance and altitude (1,000 metres (3,300 ft) or more of ascent), and taking eight or more hours to complete. In certain areas, such as the Brenta Dolomites, it is possible to link via ferrata together, staying overnight in mountain refuges, and so undertake extensive multi-day climbing tours at high altitude. In difficulty, via ferrata can range from routes that are little more than paths, albeit in dramatic and exposed situations, to very steep and strenuous routes, overhanging in parts, demanding the strength—if not the technique—of serious rock climbing. Generally, via ferrata are done in ascent, although it is possible to descend them.

The origins of via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but via ferratas are strongly associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops. However, many more have been developed in recent years, as their popularity has grown and the tourism benefits have become recognised. Over 1000 via ferratas now exist. The majority are found in the Alps, most notable in Italy and Austria. Others are found in a number of European countries, and a few places elsewhere. Via ferrata have been traditionally associated with limestone mountain regions, notably the Dolomites and theNorthern Limestone Alps, as steep nature of the terrain creates the need for some form of protected paths, while the presence of ledges and natural weaknesses means relatively easy but rewarding routes can often be created. However, they are now found in range of different terrains.

2010 Stephen Italy 2010

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Flora, Friends, Local area and events to see, Rock Climbing, SAR, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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