Via Ferrata routes have been popular in Europe and Canada for many years, and for good reason. The experience brings the exposure and fun of technical rock climbing into the realm of every-day fun seekers, without needing any prior experience.

Via Ferrata, Italian for “iron road,” originated during the first and second World Wars. In order to aid troops in crossing the high peaks and passes of the Alps, the rock was retrofitted with steel ladder rungs and cables. The system allowed higher numbers of troops to travel efficiently through technical terrain. The steel “aids” made the challenging terrain accessible to soldiers with no special skills. Previous to the Via Ferrata install, the terrain would have been exclusively accessible for experienced rock climbers and mountaineers only.

After the wars, people started climbing these routes for fun and a new sport was born. Today, there are hundreds of “Vias” around the world, and adventurers from every walk of life are able to explore and enjoy the installations.

There are a few important aspects of a Via Ferrata that separate the sport from traditional rock or mountain climbing. First, and most important, is the safety line. This typically consists of a half-inch stainless steel cable (wire rope) that runs the length of the route. Climbers attach themselves to the cable at the start of the route and remain connected all the way until the top. The Tahoe Via Ferrata will be using a “continuous life line” system, where unlike traditional Via Ferrata lanyards, it is impossible to detach from the cable until the end of the route.

The other main difference between Via Ferrata and rock climbing is the “aids” that are installed along the route. In sections where the rock is steep and too difficult for non-rock climbers, steel handholds, rungs and footholds are installed. Additionally, bridges and spans are installed to cross gaps and other impassable features.

All of this culminates in a thrilling and challenging way to spend a day outside with family and friends. Via Ferrata is an incredible experience that is sure to be the highlight of your day. Nearly a century after the Via’s origin in Europe,  we’re excited to bring the experience to Squaw Valley.