Summer has been poking her head out quite a bit recently in British Columbia, which means that hiking and climbing season is not far away. But have you ever considered a hybrid version of these two alpine activities?
Via Ferrata, a form of vertical climbing assisted by metal rungs embedded in the rock, blends the two experiences seamlessly. Begin by hiking in the fresh alpine air. Clip your harness into the cable safety system. Ascend a steep rock face with the ease of climbing a ladder. Soak up the views of the surrounding mountainous terrain.
At Mountain Skills Academy we are positive that you’ll love experiencing Via Ferrata. Here are five reasons why:
Howe Sound view nearing the top of the Squamish Via Ferrata. | Photo by Pebbleshoo
1. The Views
Riding a chair lift or gondola to the top of a mountain is a great way to experience alpine views. But climbing to the top under your own power and effort – even for a portion of the ascent – makes those alpine vistas all the more rewarding. On our Squamish Via Ferrata Tour, the ocean-meets-mountains view of Howe Sound rests over your left shoulder as you climb up the rungs and cross the catwalk. On Whistler, a short walk from the top of the Via Ferrata course lands you at Whistler Peak with panoramic views of the Tantalus Range, Garibaldi Park and the iconic Black Tusk.
2. It’s suitable for all ages
Whether you are eight years old or 80, there are no restrictions on whom can try via ferrata. Grandmothers, couples, families with kid and even groups of corporate colleagues have all experienced our via ferrata tours in Squamish and Whistler. All you need is a base level of fitness to for 90 minutes (a couple of hours longer on our Whistler tour) of hiking and light climbing. Speaking of climbing…
3. You don’t need climbing skills or equipment
All the gear is provided for you including a harness, helmet and a set of special carabiner leashes that clip into the cable safety system. Just bring a sturdy set of hiking shoes, sunglasses, some sunscreen and of course a camera to capture the moment. The climbing itself is as straight forward as ascending a ladder, so don’t feel like you need any of the rock climbing strength or skills to participate.
Hiking the Wonderland trail from the Sea to Sky Gondola | Photo by Sea to Sky Gondola
4. Explore the surrounding hiking trails
Our Squamish Via Ferrata is based from the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola with eight hiking trails for all abilities, from short loops to full day backcountry trips. Pairing an afternoon of hiking after a 90 minute via ferrata tour in the morning is the best way to get value from your Sea to Sky Gondola access.
In Whistler, our Via Ferrata course finishes near the summit of Whistler Mountain. Afterwards you can enjoy the ride down on the Peak Chair and explore any of the hiking trails on Whistler or ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola over to Blackcomb for even more hiking trails.
5. Via Ferrata is fun for the adventurous types, too
It doesn’t matter whether our guests are first-time climbers or experienced mountaineers bringing their friends and family along for a taste of the alpine experience. We receive amazing feedback from all sorts of mountain-savvy folk about our unique and enjoyable Via Ferrata tours.
Written by: Vince Shuley