How to: Do a Via Ferrata in the Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa are a totally spectacular mountain range in the north of Spain. Famous for the seemingly never-ending hiking trails, this natural park is a must-see when in the north of the country. If you are hiked out though, there are other activities to try! When we were tired of hiking, we did a via ferrata! A via ferrata is a mountain climb equipped with fixed ladders, cables, and bridges. It is kind of like rock climbing, but with steps and handles. It was my first time trying it, and we wanted to do an easy one. We called up Javier at Guiatrek, rented the equipment for a very reasonable €20, and were off!

Camaleño is a beginner/intermediate via ferrata, perfect for first timers. We parked the van at the trailhead, put on our harnesses, helmets, and gloves and began up the hill. When we reached the wall, I got nervous. I looked up the wall and saw the metal hooks and handles sticking out, until I couldn’t see them anymore because they were too high up. Phew. I began shaking in my boots a little bit.

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There is really just one rule in a via ferrata. You have two carabiners on your harness. The one rule is to only clip and unclip one at a time. The cable that runs up along the side of the ladders and handles has breaks in it every few metres. Once you reach a joint, unclip one carabiner, clip it to the next bit of cable. Once it is clipped, only then can you unclip the next one and clip it again. The point is to always be attached to the cable, or as they call it in Spain, the lifeline.

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Up and up and up we went. We climbed past two mountain goats, who were very confused as to why humans were up on a wall like this. We finished the first leg of the climb, and then the second. After the second, the trail diverges here, to an easy bit, and a more difficult bit. We decided to take the more difficult bit because it took us to a Tibetan bridge; a bridge that is made up of one cable for your feet, a cable on either side for each hand, and a cable above for your caribiners.

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I hooked on to the cable above my head, grabbed the ropes on either side, and began my walk. “Don’t look down,” I told myself. My heart was pounding in my throat, my stomach was fluttering like a butterfly. I laughed and shrieked the entire way across. “I’m going to cry!” I laugh/yelled. I made it!

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This was the perfect first try at a via ferrata. I am so proud of myself that I was able to finish such a crazy climb. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone! As always, commetn below with questions and comments about this or any other via ferrata experiences you have had!

And if a via ferrata doesn’t sound like your thing, stay tuned for more tips for travel in the Picos!

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Post via ferrata beer….

2 thoughts on “How to: Do a Via Ferrata in the Picos de Europa

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