Your New Favorite Mountain Climbing Experience
There are plenty of spectacular mountain views to be discovered in Canada’s Western Mountains. Forested hikes and gondola rides are a great way to reach rewarding heights with stunning scenery, especially for families. But for those looking for a little more adventure without compromising on safety, a Via Ferrata is a must-add to your mountain bucket list.
Via Ferrata is a different kind of climbing experience using anchored cables that are fixed along mountainsides. If you have the physical ability to climb a ladder and zest for outdoor adventure, you’ll love this new way of mountain climbing. Follow a certified guide up ladders, across suspension bridges and along mountain ridges. Climbers can expect sweeping mountain views, big blue skies, and a sense of accomplishment when they reach the top. Not to mention, a chance to see snow in summer and make the most of early autumn weather. Learn why via ferrata is a new favorite mountain climbing experience for many.
Via Ferrata for Beginners
Via Ferrata is Italian for ‘the iron path’ or ‘the iron way’, which makes much more sense once you start climbing. Via ferrata routes cross mountain faces using a network of steel cables, ladders, and other fixed anchors. These steel attachments into the cliff face make it possible for climbers to make their way across, up, and down cliff faces that would be otherwise impossible to traverse without the help of these attachments.
This system of steel cables gives non-rock-climbers the confidence to climb with peace of mind for safety and security. It’s similar to a combination of suspension bridges, zip lines and rappels—but much more involved. After climbing a via ferrata, you’ll leave with a great sense of achievement, feeling like a true Rocky Mountain climber.
What you Need for Via Ferrata Climbing
Guided trips will provide all the necessary gear to keep you safe, including carabiners, lanyards, a helmet, and a harness. For the best climbing experience, make sure you bring the following:
- All-weather/waterproof outerwear (e.g. rain jacket and soft-shell pants suitable for the outdoors)
- Warm layers of clothing
- Sturdy hiking boots/trail footwear
- Water Bottle
- Small backpack
LOCAL TIPNo gear? No problem. Most Via Ferrata operators offer equipment to rent. Banff Norquay Via Ferrata offers a range of rental equipment and sizes for free on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Via Ferrata in Banff National Park
Mt. Norquay is home to Banff’s only via ferrata, nestled in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site—Banff National Park. Located a short drive from Banff and a 45-minute drive from Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay is a favorite destination among locals. The views from Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata are breathtaking but you can breathe easy knowing you’re safe and secure throughout your climbing journey.
Harnesses remain attached to the mountain’s steel cable pathway during the entire climb. This guided experience is led by local ACMG-certified guides who will show you the ropes for navigating up steel ladders and across suspension bridges. Listen to their mountain stories, ask questions and share their love for the mountains in your ferrata experience. So leave your worries at the base and make mountain memories that will last a lifetime climbing high above Mt. Norquay’s cliffs.
LOCAL TIPClimbing in Banff National Park offers the unique of opportunity to spot wildlife (think bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and marmots). There are 53 species of mammals that call Mt. Norquay home.
Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata Routes
There are several routes to choose from that vary in time and distance. So whether you’re looking for an intro into via ferrata or looking for a little more adventure, there’s a route that’s perfect for everyone:
- Explorer | 0.6 mi (1 km) distance, 2—2.5 hours, June 11 – October 9, 2022
- Ridgewalker |0.9 mi (1.4 km) distance, 3.5—4 hours, June 11–October 9, 2022
- Alpinist | 1 mi (1.9 km) distance, 4—4.5 hours, June 11—October 9, 2022
- Skyline | 1.5 mi (2.5 km) distance, 4.5—4 hours, June 11—September 25, 2022
- Summiteer | 2 mi (3.2 km distance, 5.5—6 hours, June 11—September 25, 2022
- Mountaineer | 2.2 mi (3.7 km) distance, up to 8 hours, June 11—September 26 subject to availability, inquire here
LOCAL TIPPlanning a family climb? The Explorer and Ridgewalker routes are great choices for those looking for an introduction to Via Ferrata. All routes require a minimum of 14 years of age (except for the Explorer and Ridgewater routes which require a minimum of 12 years of age) and a minimum of 40 kg (88 lbs).
Via Ferrata in Whistler
See snow in summer and stunning Whistler scenery going into fall. Whistler’s via ferrata takes you to the summit of Whistler Peak. The journey to the ferrata is an experience in itself. The ferrata is accessible via the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. Soar high above the trees on the world’s highest lift of its kind. Embark on a half-day via ferrata mountain adventure with an experienced, local guide. All the safety equipment you need to climb is provided, including helmets with mounts for your GoPro. Climb to new heights in Whistler with confidence!
LOCAL TIPFrom September 12 to October 10, the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola is open only on weekends, so plan for a weekend ferrata experience in the fall. Book your PEAK 2 PEAK gondola fall sightseeing tickets up to 72 hours in advance here.
Whistler Mountain Via Ferrata Tour
The Whistler Via Ferrata takes up to 4 hours to complete 2.5 mi (4 km) of mountain terrain and 853 feet (260 meters) of elevation gain. If you’re short on time, there is also the Whistler Sky Walk hike which takes up to 2 hours. This guided hike also uses a clip and harness system for walking across bridges and along Whistler’s cliff edges.
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Who says summer has to end after Labor Day? Extend your summer and save up to 20% when you stay & play in Banff, Lake Louise, and Whistler.