Let’s say you crave the thrill of climbing an awe-inspiring peak—or you crave the thrill of impressing your friends with your outdoor prowess—but you have little to no experience when it comes to scaling cliffs.
Not to worry. We know just what to do.
Step one: Find yourself a via ferrata (Italian for “iron path”). Step two: Suit up with a helmet and harness. Step three: Ascend a series of steel rungs making up a kind of ladder in the sky. Because your harness is connected to bungee-like ropes and carabiners that move along with you, it’s much less scary than traditional climbing, and in nearly all cases, no expreience is necessary.
Step four: Collect the glory.
Via ferratas, originally created to move troops around the Dolomites in Italy during the first World War, are now meant for fun, and they’ve spread to mountainous terrain in other corners of the globe, including the United States.
Part climbing, part hiking, and part scrambling, the exhilarating routes supply the adventure—and some of the bragging rights—of mountain climbing without the same degree of danger or the need to lug around heavy gear.
Here are five rewarding via ferratas worth checking out in the American West.
Pictured above: Ouray Via Ferrata in Colorado