During World War I, troops used fixed ropes and ladders to cross the treacherous Dolomites Mountains in Italy. Called Via Ferratas—Italian for "iron road"—these routes were intended to help move personnel and equipment through the mountains.
Now, instead of being used for military maneuvers, Via Ferratas are for entertainment. Over the last few years, the attractions have popped up throughout Europe and North America. And Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is now opening its own high-altitude version with routes near Ranger Ridge and Casper Bowl on Rendezvous Mountain opening this summer.
The guided attraction will allow for 300 to 500 feet of vertical climbing and let people try out iron rungs, footholds, suspended bridges, and other climbing aids.
A full-day session will take five or six hours, with half-day options also available. But if people don’t want to commit to a full- or half-day session, they can sign up for an introductory route to test it out.
“If they enjoy the introductory route, they can continue on for more variety and challenge,” says David Johnson, profit center marketing coordinator for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Via Ferratas typically feature an “A to E” rating scale for difficulty, and the resort’s offerings will be in the “A to C” range, including easy, moderately difficult, and difficult routes, though prior experience is not required.
“You don’t have to be a climber to do the Via Ferrata,” Johnson says. “The most important thing is it’s a safe way to get into the mountains. This opens up a new realm of possibilities and a safe way of seeing a beautiful place from above the valley.
Participants will climb into a harness and join experienced guides while exploring routes named after mountain features like “Casper Buttress” and “Ranger Ridge.” These routes were originally mapped out by legendary mountaineer Jeff Lowe, and specialty firm Adventure Partners installed the route last summer.
Only a limited number of people will be able to go up at any one time, so reservations are required. While it’s not for small children, kids 10 and over are allowed, with increased guide ratios for 10- and 11-year-olds.
“We’re excited to open up this previously untraveled area of the mountain in summer time to our guests and give them an authentic sense of the Tetons and the adventures that lie around the valley,” Johnson says.