I Conquered a Via Ferrata—Then Wondered if I Should Have
As I wobble along the via ferrata’s cable-wire bridge stretched across the Uncompahgre Gorge in Ouray, I keep reminding myself of one thing: Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Do. Not. Look. Down. That’s because a ribbon of frothy whitewater churns far below me. It’s the first feature of the Ouray Via Ferrata’s downstream route. My friend and I, despite our lack of rock climbing experience, are harnessed and helmeted behind our mountain guide, Micah Lewkowitz of Mountain Trip, who’d already cruised across the cable and swiveled around to snap photos of us. Via ferrata is Italian for “iron path,” a concept that dates to World War I in Italy’s Dolomites, where they were developed to maneuver troops through inaccessible terrain. It’s a system of steel rungs, ladders, bridges, and cables permanently bolted into rock walls and ledges. This one follows the east side of the 180-foot-deep gorge, across from the famous Ouray Ice Park, for nearly a mile.