If you are an adrenaline addict and adventure lover, plus you can boast excellent psychical condition and strong nerves, you should try one of these mountain routes. Called iron ways or via ferratas, these paths will provide you with a bunch of challenges and thrills. Not for acrophobes!
Michielli Strobel via ferrata is a popular mountain route, equipped with fixed cables, located in the Italian Dolomites, near Cortina. Apparently, the trail is not extremely difficult in comparison to other European “iron roads”; still, it is worth mentioning that the route derived its name from a famous guide who died trying to climb Pomagagnon, a vertical rock wall surrounding the Boite valley, where the ferrata leads.
The trail is very exposed and there are several precipices underneath. You’d better stay within your technical, physical and psychological limits, and choose other options, if you sense this one could be too difficult for you.
El Camino del Rey
El Camino del Rey (the King’s little pathway) is extreme. The route leading along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, Spain, was constructed in 1905 for the workers building the hydroelectric power plants so they could cross between the falls. In 1921 King Alfonso XII crossed the walkway and it became known by its present name.
Today the route is in a hazardous condition as some parts of the concrete path have collapsed and there are only steel beams that allow you to cross the walkway. There is no handrail and the stability of the cable that runs along the length of the path is, actually, unknown. In recent years several people have lost their lives on the route, so think twice before you decide to go.
To give you a better idea of what it looks like:
France is home to around 120 via ferratas, ranging from easy to extremely difficult routes. Roche Veyrand is definitely a fine example of one of these quite difficult and challenging tracks. The path is located in St Pierre d’Entremont, in the Rhône-Alpes region, which stretches in the south-eastern part of the country.
The ferrata is actually divided into two parts, of which one is moderately difficult and suitable for accompanied beginners, while the second one is only for advanced hikers. There are many vertical passages on the way, so good climbing abilities are really required. For those who conquer the trail, the breathtaking view over the Chartreuse Mountains is waiting at the top. Worth trying!
This is the most demanding and the longest route in the entire Switzerland. The Lukerbad via ferrata, located in the Bernese Alps, in Dalatal, is dotted with vertical and extremely exposed ladders. The walls are really steep and climbing demands a super good physical condition accompanied by strong nerves. The path is very steep and dangerous throughout the climb, so if the weather is bad, don’t go!
The ferrata comprises two parts. The small via feratta, where the toughest part of the route has three ladders, one after the other, with a total length of 76m! The big via ferrata part is even more demanding, with pins as footholds and a serious danger of loose rock falling.
Last but not least, Hua Shan, located in the Shaanxi Province, China, is considered one of the most challenging routes in the country. The mountain, called Mount Hua, is one of Five Sacred Taoist Mountains and has a long history of religious significance. Today, the plank pathway leading all the way up to the peak has become a paid tourist attraction. Before the 1990s the route was actually very dangerous, but since the boom in tourism the local government has installed some railings and built wider paths and stone steps.
Still, the Hua Shan trail is considered to be the most dangerous tourist mountain route in the world. Is it, really? It‘s hard to say as there aren’t any statistics on accidents occurring there. Despite that, more and more inexperienced tourists take the route and, in some cases, a lack of good hiking abilities appears fatal for irresponsible hikers.