Ouray Via Ferrata opens for 2022 season with new, more advanced route

Calling all thrill-seekers to the Western Slope: The Ouray Via Ferrata is now open, and this season there’s a new route along the Uncompahgre River Gorge for advanced climbers to traverse.

For the uninitiated, via ferrata is Italian for “iron path” and so-named for the network of hand and foot rungs typically installed into the side of a cliff face that allows adventurers to climb along it while hooked onto a safety cable.

Ouray’s is fairly new, having opened in 2020 during the first pandemic summer with one route, known as the Downstream Route. It proved so popular, however – more than 10,000 people tried it out its first season, said co-founder and board member Mark Iuppenlatz – that Friends of the Ouray Via Ferrata, the nonprofit that manages the attraction, quickly started designing a second route to avoid overcrowding.

The new Upstream Route opened for a few days in 2021 but is making its grand debut in 2022. The Upstream Route is more difficult, Iuppenlatz said, and designed with avid rock climbers in mind.

“The new route would be considered advanced,” he said. “We recommend approach shoes or climbing shoes because the way they make it harder is to leave out a lot of the foot rungs. So it’s a mixture of rock climbing and via ferrata.”

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