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Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review

Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review: Experience Accessible Adventure

Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata, located in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, offers an exhilarating outdoor adventure that combines rock climbing and hiking. With its iron steps, bridges, and zip lines, it offers a unique and accessible way to explore the mountains. After visiting the Via Ferrata this spring, I’m ready to share some of the experience and my tips with you to help you plan the best visit possible.





Table of Contents

Introduction to the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata

Let’s dig into my complete Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review, starting with an introduction to the route and concept itself. It’s a unique attraction that originated in Europe and is still new to America.





What is a Via Ferrata?

A Via Ferrata, Italian for “Iron Path,” is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and other areas. It combines rock climbing and hiking, utilizing iron steps, ladders, and bridges to allow non-expert climbers to traverse challenging terrains safely.

The concept originated during World War I to help soldiers move through the mountainous terrain. They are a great way to experience the thrill of climbing without the need to learn technical rope skills and buying a lot of gear.

About the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata

The Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is a 3-hour route that takes you along the cliffs overlooking Idaho Springs. While it’s a physical challenge with some exposure to heights, it’s manageable for those with a moderate level of fitness. The route includes a mix of hiking, scrambling, and climbing using the iron rungs and features two thrilling zip line descents.

While the Via Ferrata does not actually take you to the summit of Mount Blue Sky, it is situated on a lower slope of the massif, several miles from the peak itself.

When To Visit

The Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is open from May to October, with peak season being in the summer months. However, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can also be a great time to visit, offering cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Always check the weather before you go, as conditions can change quickly in the mountains.

Book a Visit Here





Preparing for the Adventure

Before setting off on your adventure, it’s important to pack appropriately. This includes wearing comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes, and bringing plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen. You should also arrive early to familiarize yourself with the site and attend the safety briefing.

If you want to keep things with you like your sunglasses or phone, I highly recommend attaching them to a carabiner or eyewear retainer so you can hang them around your neck without losing them – which does happen!

Mt Blue Sky Via Ferrata

My Experience Climbing Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata

Here’s an overview of the entire Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata route, overlooking the mountain town of Idaho Springs and Chicago Creek far below.





I. Starting with a 4WD Ride to the Top

After you check in, sign liability waivers, and get outfitted with climbing gear, you’ll take a safari-style truck on a 10-minute drive to the top of the Via Ferrata route. It’s a rugged road, so make sure you buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride! Once you arrive, you’ll head to the first cliff section to start your adventure. This is the best spot to take a group photo, with amazing views of the valley below and the Continental Divide to the west.

Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata View

II. Traversing Cliffs Above Idaho Springs

Your guide will give you a briefing on how to use your “lobster hooks” – two large climbing hooks which clip you into a large steel cable to protect you in case of a fall. You then step out onto the cliffs, take hold of large steel cables and metal foot holds, and work your way across the rock-face. With the wind in your face and the sound of the stream below you, it’s an incredible experience that will make you feel a real sense of connection with nature.

III. Taking a Long Walk off a Short Bridge

The next thrill on the route is one of the best: a 50-foot controlled free fall off their “Short Bridge.” While it looks intimidating, the bungee cord is attached to a powered auto-belay device that will slow your fall considerably. My guide described it as ‘jumping into a cloud’ and I couldn’t agree more! If you are really opposed to jumping, there are options to pass it by – but I highly recommend going for it no matter what!

Mt Blue Sky Via Ferrata




IV. Crossing the “Long Bridge”

After a few more sections of Via Ferrata, you come to the ‘Long Bridge’ which is the longest rope obstacle along the route. This is the final ‘turn-around’ point where you can opt-out from the experience. After you cross, you’re committing to the rest of the Via Ferrata route as there’s no way to exit other than continuing.

V. Rappelling Down a 70-foot Cliff

One of the highlights of the Via Ferrata is towards the end, as you rappel down a 70-foot rock face to reach the zip-lining section of the route. With your guide belaying you to ensure you stay safe, you’ll lean back out over the rock face before gradually walking down the rock wall and landing safely by the rest of your group. You’re almost at the end!

Rappelling Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review

VI. Zip-lining to the Finish Line

The last two obstacles on the Via Ferrata are two zip-lines through the forest, over Chicago Creek, and back to the main base camp area. Your guide will walk you through how to hold the line and keep yourself pointed forwards, as well as teaching you how to brake using your hand. It’s a thrilling descent to end your journey on a high note.

Ziplining Mt Blue Sky Via Ferrata

Safety Measures at Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata

The most common questions people have usually revolve around safety and falls. In reality, the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is an extremely safe experience, so long as you give it the respect it deserves and listen closely to your guides. Here are some of the specific measures in place to keep you safe.

  • Each participant is provided with a helmet, harness, and a Y-shaped lanyard (also known as a via ferrata set) with two carabiners. These tools are essential for your safety as they connect you to the steel cable throughout the route.
  • The two carabiners (called lobster claws) are designed so that only one claw can open at a time. This means it’s impossible to open both clips at the same time, ensuring you are always attached to the steel cable by at least one of them.
  • Guides are trained in rescue and first aid procedures, and are always on hand to assist and ensure you’re properly attached to the safety line.
  • The route is regularly maintained and inspected for any signs of wear or damage to maintain its safety standards.

Still unsure about the Via Ferrata? I recommend trying the zip-lining course instead, as it’s a little less intimidating but still offers an amazing family-friendly adventure right in Idaho Springs.





Other Fun Things To Do Around Mount Blue Sky

While you’re in the area, there are a ton of other great attractions to visit. Here are some of my favorite things to do and places to visit in Idaho Springs and around Mount Blue Sky.

Climb Mount Blue Sky

Perhaps the most obvious idea is climbing Mount Blue Sky itself! If you’re a hiking or biking fan, you can reach the summit using your own muscle power from the Summit Lake trailhead. Alternatively, you can get a timed-entry reservation during the summer and drive all the way to the summit parking area itself. Whatever floats your boat! Plan your ascent with my complete 14er guide.

Tour the Argo Gold Mine

Situated in the heart of Idaho Springs, the Argo Gold Mine and Mill is more than one hundred years old and hold thousands of relics and artifacts from the Gold Rush era. The first gold nugget found in Colorado was discovered in Chicago Creek just a few blocks away. The highlight of the tour is a visit into the Argo Tunnel mineshaft itself, nearly 100 feet into the hillside.

Grab a Beer at Tommyknockers

Tommyknocker Brewery

There’s no better way to take a break between activities than grabbing a beer and some food at Tommyknockers Brewery. Located in downtown Idaho Springs, it’s a great family-friendly spot for a bite to eat with an amazing list of beers on tap. Their name comes from the legendary mine creatures thought to inhibit the gold mines during the late 19th century.





Whitewater Rafting on Clear Creek

Clear Creek flows through Idaho Springs and you can see it clearly from the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata. It’s a world-class destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking, with multiple class III and IV rapids that will push you to your limits and demonstrate the raw power and fury of mother nature in the mountains. Book early, as reservations tend to fill far in advance.

Soak at Indian Hot Springs

At the end of a busy day on the Via Ferrata, take a short drive over to Indian Hot Springs to finish your adventure. Soaking in the natural mineral waters in the historic bathhouse is a bucket list experience that will sooth sore muscles and joints while refueling you for another day of adventures in the mountains!

Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review: Now You Know

As far as adventures go, the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is an excellent way to spend a day in Idaho Springs, Colorado. It’s ideal if you want to experience the thrill of rock climbing without the need to gain technical skills or rent specialized gear. While it may push you out of your comfort zone, it’s one of the best accessible ways to really experience the thrill and excitement of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

If you visit the Via Ferrata, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought of your experience. Would you recommend it to others or not? Safe travels on the trails!





FAQ

Below are answers to common questions related to my Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata review. You can also leave a question in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as possible.

Q: What is a Via Ferrata?

A: A Via Ferrata, Italian for “Iron Path,” is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and other areas. It combines rock climbing and hiking, utilizing iron steps, ladders, and bridges to allow non-expert climbers to traverse challenging terrains safely.

A: It typically takes about 3 hours to complete the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata route, depending on your group size, weather conditions, and your level of fitness and climbing skill.

A: The Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is a moderate challenge. It requires a fair level of fitness due to the physical exertion and exposure to heights, but it’s not as demanding as traditional rock climbing. Most people in reasonable shape can complete it without issues, but those with health conditions, as well as older people and children, may struggle.

A: Yes. The Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is designed with safety measures such as steel cables, carabiners, and guides who are trained in rescue and first aid procedures. The equipment and route are regularly inspected and maintained for safety.

A: No previous experience is required for the Via Ferrata. It’s designed to be accessible to non-expert climbers, although a moderate level of fitness is recommended.

A: Yes, a guide is required for the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata. They provide safety briefings, assist with equipment, and ensure you’re properly attached to the safety line.

A: You should wear comfortable clothing suitable for the weather, sturdy shoes, and bring essential items like water, snacks, and sunscreen. All necessary climbing gear is provided.

A: Yes, the Via Ferrata is family-friendly, although it’s probably best suited for older children and teens due to the physical challenge and heights involved. There is a minimum age requirement of 12, and a minimum weight requirement of 50 pounds (maximum of 250 pounds).

A: Before crossing the “Long Bridge,” there are options to turn around. However, after that point, you must commit to the rest of the route as there’s no way to exit other than continuing.

A: There are several other Via Ferratas in Colorado including the Telluride Via Ferrata, Ouray Via Ferrata, and the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park Via Ferrata. However, the Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata is the closest to Denver and thus the easiest to access.

Mount Blue Sky Via Ferrata Review: Experience Accessible Adventure




Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.





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