One of the fantastic adventure activities available in the Dolomites is the “via ferrata” (Italian for “iron road). The via ferrata is hugely popular in the Alps, especially in the Dolomites for outdoor mountain enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating challenge. These via ferrata’s provide a niche in-between hikers and technical rock climbers to allow for safe access to steeper terrain that is normally not attainable.
The history of the via ferrata dates back to the first world war when the Austrian’s & Italian’s ferociously fought in the Dolomite Mountains. The via ferrata’s were built to help troops to move about at high altitude. In very difficult conditions, permanent lines were fixed to rock faces and ladders were installed so that troops could ascend steep faces. Later on these lines were replaced by steel cables, intermittently fixed to the rock.
Modern day via ferrata climbers utilize a “kit” that safely secures them to the cables while ascending. One is never disconnected from the safety of the via ferrata cables by the utilizations of two locking carabiners attached to two special lanyards and then to a climbing harness. These kits which also include a helmet can be rented at many mountain shops throughout the Dolomites. The only requirement is a steady head for exposure, good fitness & a stable pair of hiking shoes. It is also recommended to use a pair of grippy gloves to protect the hands. To determine the difficulty of a via ferrata there is a universal grading system, 1 being the easiest and 5 the most difficult.
Currently there are over 400 established via ferrata routes in Italy and over half of them are in the Dolomites. Join Adventure Dolomiti together with a local mountain guide to experience for yourself the best selection of via ferrata’s in the Alta Badia region of the Dolomites.