The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year will be opening Colorado’s newest adventure, a Via Ferrata on the granite walls of the Royal Gorge. The new attraction will be ready for the 2019 summer tourist season. Guests will be halfway down into the Royal Gorge when they start climbing on what will be a unique lifetime experience.
The Via Ferrata is in the planning and proposed routing stage for the first of three phases. The first route will be on the South Side (North Face) of the Royal Gorge with a targeted opening date of May 1, said Brent Hargrave, COO. “Guests will be able to enjoy watching people scale the opposite wall from the Visitor Center deck, the bridge, or just about anywhere in the park,” said Hargrave.
“Via Ferratas are increasing in popularity and timing is right for the park,” said Jeremy Boswell, VP of Operations. “This experience is for those who would not otherwise ever have a climbing experience.” You don’t have to be a professional or serious mountain climber, he said. This system introduces people to mountaineering in a protected, safe climbing system that uses trained guides, climbing lanyards with carabiners, steel cables, and iron rungs installed into rock surfaces. Popularity of Via Ferratas began in Europe over a hundred years ago even though the system has been around longer. In the United States, there are Via Ferratas most notably in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and California in the mountainous regions.
Hargrave said the Via Ferrata will capitalize on the natural attraction of the Royal Gorge. “We will set ourselves apart from other Via Ferratas with the sheer drama and vertical foot advantage of the 1,000 foot walls. In fact, this system will be unlike any other Via Ferrata in the nation due to its verticality.” The sturdy rock walls are made of Pike’s Peak granite and formed over a billion years ago.
Mike Friedman with Colorado-based Adventure Partners Attractions, designer and installer said “Via Ferratas are taking off in North America right now. It’s designed for non-climbers with an adventurous streak who want to know first-hand what it feels like scale a rock face. People today want to be more participatory in their experiences, and the Via Ferrata is a spectacular, earned adventure.”
Friedman, a former Teton mountain guide, began creating Via Ferratas for a resort in the red rock canyons of southern Utah in 2009. “The park is building something that will deliver life-long memories. It’s a gateway for those who want to experience climbing.”
Still in the beginning stages, this guided-only activity will be open to a wide range of ages, and courses from easy to more challenging. The average tour can range from two to five hours.
“The Royal Gorge is an awesome place. When I first stepped up the rim it took my breath away, the beauty of those sheer rock faces, perfect for a Via Ferrata.” said Friedman.
Check www.royalgorgebridge.com or facebook.com/royalgorgebridge for updates and opening date.