The mountain town’s iron way makes for the perfect fall adventure for all ability levels.
Logan Tyler, owner of guide service Basecamp Ouray, sat down at Rick and Sandra Wilson’s kitchen table in 2020 to pitch the idea of stringing up a via ferrata on the Wilson’s private 1,200-acre property, Gold Mountain Ranch. “They didn’t know what a via ferrata was, but they were looking for ways to make the property more inclusive… so people could go up there and recreate,” Tyler says. They agreed to the idea on the spot.
For the uninitiated, a via ferrata, Italian for “iron way,” is a climbing route made up of iron rungs and a cable that you clip onto via two short lanyards attached to your climbing harness. The Gold Mountain Via Ferrata, Ouray’s second course (there’s also a public via ferrata that winds through the Ice Park in the Uncompahgre Gorge), is unique in its connection to Ouray’s mining history. Tyler installed his via ferrata so that it literally passes through mining structures, including a 50-foot-long mining tunnel with ore cart tracks and a 100-year-old blacksmith shop. The guided-only route affords breathtaking views of the San Juans and the town of Ouray, some glimpsed from two cable suspension bridges. The optional “Hardman’s Route” ascends a 5.9-rated overhang and traverses a knob of rock with 800 feet of airspace beneath your feet. Via ferratas are becoming increasingly popular across the West—with notable new routes at Arapaho Basin and Jackson Hole resorts—but this iron way is one for the bucket list.
Photos courtesy Gold Mountain Via Ferrata