Exploring the Whistler Via Ferrata

Getting an epic selfie on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Getting an epic selfie on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

If you haven’t already, check out our previous post about Via Ferratas and our experience on the Squamish Via Ferrata at the Sea to Sky Gondola.

You can read that here: An Adventure on the Squamish Via Ferrata

Well, after our morning out with the Mountain Skills Academy on the Squamish Via Ferrata we were psyched to check out the Whistler Via Ferrata next.

The Whistler Via Ferrata was one of the first of it’s kind in Canada and we were told that it was a few grades harder than the newer one recently opened in Squamish. Fresh off our experience in Squamish we were excited to see for ourselves what it was like!

The Y-shaped lanyard and carabiners that we used to secure ourselves to the cable.

The Y-shaped lanyard and carabiners that we used to secure ourselves to the cable.

It’s longer than the Squamish Via Ferrata being a 4 hour return trip from the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain.

Myself and Spring met up with our Guide and group at the base of the gondola in Whistler. From there we took the gondola up and got to know each other on the scenic ride up the mountain.

At the top we went to a little cabin near the Roundhouse to get our harnesses, helmets and lanyards. Coming straight off our Squamish trip we felt like seasoned pros with the equipment.

Weather couldn’t slow us down.

Hiking to the base of our via ferrata route.

Hiking to the base of our via ferrata route.

We headed out promptly and got the day underway. Clouds were building overhead and weather looked to be rolling in but it didn’t slow us down.

Right away we got that big mountain feel. From the Roundhouse you will be starting above the trees in the Alpine. We were surrounded by rock, ice and snow. After hiking for a bit towards Whistler Mountain we gained the base of our route and the fun of climbing the “Iron Road” began.

The initial ladders at the start of the Whistler Via Ferrata.

The initial ladders at the start of the Whistler Via Ferrata.

We clipped into the security of the metal cable running along the length of the route and started moving upwards steadily.

We could definitely feel that this Via Ferrata was different to the Squamish one. The rungs were further apart and in places you needed to hold onto rock to move upwards. It was varied and interesting but never too hard. A girl in our group had never done anything remotely like this before and she found it a lot of fun. We always had the reassurance that we were protected as we were clipped into the metal cable.

Do we look happy? Our group at the top of the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Do we look happy? Our group at the top of the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Bringing back the High 5 on Whistler Mountain!

The route had an awesome mountaineering feel. We traversed ledges, moved around blocky features, ascended steep cliffs, all while working our way towards the summit. If you want that feeling like you are aiming for an objective in the mountains and working to achieve it then this will definitely be for you.

After a few hours, we topped out and everyone High Fived and smiled. There was a real sense of accomplishment. We had climbed an actual mountain and now had the reward of looking at the many peaks and mountain ranges around us.

Hiking out through the snow walls on Whistler Mountain

Hiking out through the snow walls on Whistler Mountain

Our day wasn’t over yet, as any Mountaineer knows, we still had to get down.

To get back to our starting point our guide found a slope with snow on it and we slid down on our bums making a fast and fun retreat. If you want that inner child in you to come out then this will do it for you.

From there it was a short hike back to the cabin to drop off our equipment then a nice ride down in the gondola to talk about our morning adventure.

So, Squamish or Whistler?

The many helpful rungs along the route.

The many helpful rungs along the route.

After completing both the Squamish and Whistler Via Ferrata I can give some comparisons between them both.

In my opinion, if you’ve never been on a Via Ferrata before then start in Squamish. It’s shorter, easier and you will be traveling in and around the glacier polished granite and moss covered Coastal Rainforest that makes Squamish unique. Plus you end at the Summit Lodge so as soon as you’ve finished you can visit the Cafe and Restaurant at the top.

After the Squamish Via Ferrata you are likely going to want to take the next step and try the Whistler route. This one starts above the forest in among the mountains. You will feel that sensation of being in the wild and working towards reaching a mountain summit while fully protected and secure on the Via Ferrata.

Walking the final section to the top of Whistler Mountain.

Walking the final section to the top of Whistler Mountain.

It’s a little harder and longer but you will love it. The feeling of accomplishment will be even greater once you’re done.

Where to go from there when you’ve completed them both? The next step is taking a Mountaineering or Rock Climbing course. Ask your guide from the Mountain Skills Academy for more information on that.

Well, what do you think? Would you try out a Via Ferrata? Do you have any questions that I could answer about it?

More Info:

Mountain Skills Academy
Whistler/Blackcomb Resort

More Pictures:

Climbing up a wall of rock on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Climbing up a wall of rock on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Looking down at the route we came up. We ascended from the snow down there.

Looking down at the route we came up. We ascended from the snow down there.

Reaching for one of the last rungs on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Reaching for one of the last rungs on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Traversing a section of rock on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Traversing a section of rock on the Whistler Via Ferrata.

Author: Leigh McClurg

I grew up in County Dublin, Ireland and moved to British Columbia, Canada with my wife in 2010. I fell in love with being in the Backcountry and Mountains that are all around me here and try to spend all of my free time exploring those wild places. My main goals are to chase happiness, see as much of this planet and its cultures as possible and grow every day through knowledge and experiences.

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