“What is a Via Ferrata?”, it’s understandable if you’re asking that question right now. Being honest, up until a few years ago I didn’t exactly know what it was myself.
I’m going to explain what it is below but let me first say this, if you’re a hiker and living in or thinking about visiting the Southwest of British Columbia you should get stoked right about now because having access to a Via Ferrata in Squamish is going to be a game changer for many of you.
“Via Ferrata” is an Italian word that translates to “Iron Road”. They’ve been used for centuries but were popularized during WWI as a means of safely moving troops and equipment through the Alps. They are now found extensively throughout Italy and Austria as attractions for people to be able to move in the mountains and on cliffs with the security of protection bolted into the rock.
It’s common for individuals in that region to have experience on Via Ferratas. Growing up hikers there progress from being on steep trails, to using Via Ferratas in the Mountains, to learning to climb rock and use ropes. It’s a part of the process of learning to move in the mountains.
Squamish needed a Via Ferrata.
It’s awesome now that Squamish, a world renowned Mountain and Climbing town has got its own Via Ferrata for people to experience. If you’ve hiked on trails and want to experience something a little bit more adventurous, then this Via Ferrata is definitely for you.
When I first moved to Squamish I hadn’t really ever been in the mountains before. I learned to hike and backpack but I found it hard to make the next step to learning to climb. It felt like a leap to go from hiking on trails to suddenly climbing rock faces. I hadn’t developed a trust in the ropes that I would hang my life on. Eventually I pushed through and started climbing but I couldn’t help but feel like there was a step between hiking and climbing that I was missing.
That step is Via Ferratas.
Myself and Spring had the opportunity to get guided by the Mountain Skills Academy on the Squamish Via Ferrata at the Sea to Sky Gondola. This would be both of our first times on one of these “Iron Roads” along cliff faces.
We met up with our guide near the Summit Lodge of the Sea to Sky Gondola and received a tutorial about the gear we would be using. The Mountain Skills Academy provided the harness and helmet for us as well as the Y-shaped lanyard that we’d be using to secure ourselves on our adventure.
We hiked down from the summit lodge and arrived at the “Flight Deck”, the start point of the Via Ferrata route. We received another clear tutorial about the simple use of our lanyard and carabiners. Basically at no point during the adventure will you be unprotected. We were always connected in to a metal cable that runs along the route which will catch us if we slipped.
We moved along the route with our guide, climbing steep cliff faces but feeling very secure as we got to hold on to and have our feet on metal rungs. We could see the Howe Sound behind us, hear the birds in the trees and feel the texture of the granite rock around us.
Catwalk in the Sky!
At one point you reach a catwalk in the sky, a metal walkway running along a cliff. Here we got to sit down and hang our feet in the air for a snack and soak in the views knowing we were still fully protected from falling. It was a great feeling!
We continued up, seeing the Summit Lodge drawing closer above and got to wave to the people on the Sun Deck and Suspension Bridge looking down on us as we climbed higher.
We passed around the side of the Summit Lodge and finished our tour. It was smiles all around for everyone!
In total the tour took around 90 minutes to complete and we found it very family friendly. We were told that children as young as 5 years old would be capable of doing it which is awesome! I wish I could have done something like this when I was 5, what a memory to have.
There are many individuals who will enjoy doing this Via Ferrata:
- If it’s a rainy day in Squamish and you’re looking for something to do.
- If you’re a family in the area looking to have a quick, rewarding adventure together.
- If you’re a hiker thinking about taking the next step and want to feel the exposure on cliffs but with the security of a guide and protection.
All of the above, check this out!
Check out our next post were I’ll be discussing the Via Ferrata route in Whistler, how difficult it is and why you should check it out also after you’ve visited the Via Ferrata in Squamish:
You can read that post here: Exploring the Whistler Via Ferrata
What do you think? Would you try this?