A lesser known Via Ferrata that does not see as much traffic as the popular Banff and Golden Ferrata routes. Great alternative to avoid the crowds.
Distance: ? Height Gain: 600 feet – 182m Round Trip Time 3-4 hours Resources:
After a quick 30-minute hike from the highway we reach the bottom of the ferrata route. Time to put on our harnesses, clip on some gear, double & triple check everything and away we go.
And away we go. So, what exactly is Via Ferrata? Via Ferrata is Italian for Iron road. The majority of Via Ferrata routes were installed during the First World War in the Italian Alps to help Italian troops move quickly through the mountains. Since then, these metal rungs and cables have become a major tourist attraction. It is slowly catching on in Canada.
This particular route in the David Thompson Corridor goes up a 500-foot-tall cliff on the side of mount Stelfox.
This route was the first Ferrata installed in Alberta and at the time was only the 4th on the continent. Since then, tourist towns like Banff and Golden have also added Ferrata routes.
Not surprisingly, when you climb up the side of a 500-foot-tall cliff the views are impressive.
Unlike other Ferrata routes in the province, this one is open to the public. It does require special equipment and skills however so I would highly recommend hiring a guide, which is exactly what we did. Even if you are a skilled rock climber, ferrata is a bit different so it is good to get some training from a certified guide first.
Unlike rock climbing, which can take years to learn. If you can climb a ladder, you can try ferrata.
One of the keys to ferrata is that you always have at least one carabiner on the safety line. When you reach a bolt you can unclip one, then the other. Or in this case, Geo has clipped his carabiner to both the safety line and a ladder rung at the same time. He is in for a surprise when he tries to move up to the next step.
The other aspect of ferrata is that you always keep at least one bolt between you and the climber ahead of you. That way, if somebody falls, they will stop before they take you down with them. Geo turns around to enjoy the views while he waits for the climbers above to clear the next section.
Making progress up the steep cliff face. It takes about 2 hours to climb the 500 foot tall cliff.
Not only are guides great to keep you safe and give you the knowledge you need, they almost always have excellent photography skills as well.
Traditional Summit Selfie!
View from the top.
We hang out with the guide on the summit and enjoy lunch and the views. How do you get back down you may wonder? It is a 45min hike down a gentler trail that snakes around the back side of the cliff taking you back to the highway.