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Via ferrata trails in Slovenia

Climb a mountain on a protected climbing route.

    Via ferrata trails in Slovenia, climb a mountain on a protected climbing route

    Do you like to hike in the mountains and conquer their peaks? You can climb a mountain by various routes. You can choose well-marked and maintained mountain trails. If you're looking for a more thrilling experience, you can take on one of the many climbing routes. However, if you favour a combination of both, you can climb a mountain by a via ferrata – a protected climbing route.

    Hiking in the mountains is an increasingly popular pastime. Mountaineering, climbing, climbing on protected climbing routes (via ferratas) and hiking are the most common forms of recreation in the mountains. Have you ever climbed a mountain on a via ferrata?

     

    What is a via ferrata climbing route?

     

    Via ferratas are cable-secured climbing routes in the mountains. Today, sports via ferratas designed for adrenaline-charged experiences and recreation are especially popular. Climbing a via ferrata is different from typical rock climbing. In sports climbing, climbers are secured by a rope clipped into bolts, or climb freely without ropes and bolts. Climbing on via ferratas, that is, scrambling up protected climbing routes, is done using steel cables attached to the rock. Tourist via ferratas also have iron bars and rungs drilled into the rock face to aid climbing. This makes climbing easier and accessible even to those who have less power in their arms.

     

    Classic via ferratas are primarily intended for mountaineers. They are protected climbing routes that allow us to ascend mountain peaks.

    Sports via ferratas are aimed at those looking for an adrenaline rush and lovers of climbing. Sports via ferratas are aimed at those looking for an adrenaline rush. These via ferratas are equipped with steel cables; bars and rungs are usually placed only at the entry. There are quite a few via ferratas in Slovenia and new ones are constantly being built due to their popularity.

    Extreme via ferratas are similar to the sports ones, but are fixed over more challenging sections, such as overhangs. In addition to steel cables, you will encounter cable bridges crossing ravines and ladders on very crumbling and smooth rock walls. Extreme via ferratas are usually rated E/F.

    There are also family-friendly via ferratas. These are aimed primarily at tourists and are suitable for families with children, as well as beginners. These via ferratas are the most protected – in addition to steel cables, they are equipped with many pins and rungs that help in climbing.

    To do a via ferrata, you need basic knowledge of hill-walking and climbing, as well as the necessary equipment. You also need to be in good physical shape.

    Via Ferrata, Košuta, Karavanke

    Via ferrata on Košuta
    Photo: Uroš Ledinek

    How to prepare yourself for a via ferrata climb?

     

    Choosing the right via ferrata is of key importance. You need to know what your abilities, climbing skills and experience are. If you have a fear of heights, sports via ferratas are not for you. Instead, you can choose a family-friendly via ferrata, suitable for those who are afraid of extreme heights but still want the excitement of climbing. You can also bring your children on a family-friendly via ferrata. It is highly recommended that you hire a local mountain guide to guide you and take care of your safety.

     

    You are going to need suitable equipment to do a via ferrata. The basic equipment includes a climbing helmet, a harness, a via ferrata lanyard, gloves and appropriate footwear. Bring a light and small climbing backpack and pack enough snacks and fluids.

     

    Climbing via ferrata routes requires physical strength, especially in the arms. The routes usually combine hiking and climbing over rocks. The fixed steel cables provide protection on slippery sections and assist climbing, especially if the course runs across more challenging and steep terrain. In addition to steel cables, many via ferratas are also equipped with metal ladders or cable bridges over ravines. You will usually climb the via ferrata to the top of the mountain, then choose an easier trail for the descent. That way, you won’t obstruct climbers on the ascent route. Descending along a via ferrata is much more challenging.

    We recommend that you hire a licensed local mountain guide who will make sure your via ferrata experience is fun and safe.

    Via Ferrata on Visoka Ponca, Julian Alps, Slovenia

     Via ferrata on Visoka Ponca
    Photo: Uroš Ledinek

    Via ferrata difficulty levels

     

    There are several via ferrata difficulty levels. The easiest are those graded A, while the most difficult are graded F. This grading depends on the steepness, the incline (overhangs) and the length of the climbing route.

     

    • Difficulty level A: Easy via ferrata

    Grade A is used for via ferrata sections secured with steel cables, pins and rungs. Most protected mountain trails in the country are graded A. Ascent is also possible without protection.

     

    • Difficulty level B: Moderately difficult via ferrata

    Via ferratas graded B are moderately difficult and suitable for beginners. They are equipped with steel cables, pins and rungs that allow for an easier and fun ascent. These via ferratas require the use of safety equipment.

     

    • Difficulty level C: Difficult via ferrata

    Grade C marks “typical” via ferratas. These via ferratas are challenging and suitable for well-prepared mountaineers and climbers. Nonetheless, while grade C via ferratas are regarded as difficult, they are still suitable for most climbers. They require a certain amount of strength, especially in the arms. Safety equipment, climbing helmet and gloves should be used.

     

    • Difficulty level D: Very difficult via ferrata

    Very difficult via ferratas are graded D. To climb these via ferratas, you will need to be well-prepared physically. Grade D marks difficult sports via ferratas with overhanging sections, and sections equipped only with steel cables, without pins and rungs. They are only intended for very experienced climbers. There are few or no emergency exits along the way.

     

    • Difficulty level E: Extremely difficult via ferrata

    Grade E via ferratas require even more physical and mental preparation. There are more or longer overhanging sections. There are very few footholds or none at all. Arm strength and overall physical ability are very important. These are very difficult via ferratas where climbing experience comes very handy. They are only intended for very experienced climbers. There are few or no emergency exits along the way.

     

    • Difficulty level F: Beyond extremely difficult via ferrata

    Grade F via ferratas are the most difficult ones. Overhanging sections are frequent and very long. Knowledge of rope technique is essential to climb these via ferratas. They are only intended for experienced and trained climbers.

     

    Author: Uroš Ledinek

    Ferrata Gradiška Tura in Vipava, Slovenia

    Via ferrata on Gradiška Tura
    Photo: Uroš Ledinek

    Slovenia’s top via ferratas

     

    There are quite a few well-maintained via ferratas in Slovenia. Now is just the time to check them out. The most popular and best-known via ferratas in Slovenia are:

    Slovenia’s top via ferrata trails

    Via ferrata Hvadnik (Gozd Martuljek)

    Via ferrata Gradiška Tura

    Via ferrata Gonžarjeva peč

    Via ferrata Češka koča

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