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Posted By: Wildwire Wanaka - 05 Sep, 2018

Written by: Afar
Posted on: 2nd August 2018

On the world’s via ferratas—or “iron roads”—you can scale cliffsides, brave suspension bridges, and take in some spectacular scenery, all while being clipped to safety.

Like something out of an action move, via ferratas—systems of fixed routes of ropes, ladders, and suspended bridges—were originally designed to connect isolated villages in the European Alps. These high-altitude ropes courses proliferated during World War I as a way to ease Italian and Austrian soldiers’ movements through steep terrain. In the decades that followed, local mountaineering clubs restored many of these “iron roads,” replacing ropes with steel cables and flimsy wooden ladders with iron rungs.

The routes have since become popular with hikers who want to explore the mountains but lack the skills and gear to safely tackle technical climbing routes. Rather than carry cumbersome ropes and place gear as they go, climbers on a via ferrata wear harnesses and use carabiners and dynamic (shock-absorbing) ropes to “clip in” to the fixed system of cables.

Thee types of fixed routes are now being built on almost every continent and functioning as vertical playgrounds for experienced climbers and neophyte thrill-seekers alike. Each course is tailored to its landscape and all promise plenty of bird’s-eye views from adrenaline-pumping vantages.

To view a few of our favorites—from historic iron roads to newfangled record-setters—and where to find them, click here