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When my buddies and I finally emerged from the fleshripping thorns to find the Via Ferrata that first time, we discovered steel supports that could hold a 400-pound contestant from “The Biggest Loser.” The route was bomber. We clipped carabiners—attached to our climbing harnesses via three-foot special leashes— onto the gleaming silver cables and traversed out over steep rock faces. If we slipped, we’d fall only the length of the leash. And we didn’t fall. But for me, there was kind of a hairy moment negotiating a small pine tree stuck in the middle of a narrow ledge. There’s no cable or protection there at the tree, so you have to hug the pine and its needles and shuffle your feet around to the other side. For anyone on this particular Via Ferrata, the real drama comes on its “Main Event.” That’s the name of the biggest sheer face, which plunges a harrowing 400 feet down to the valley floor. You can’t help but feel like an insect on the Main Event. You can’t help but breathe hard, no matter how much you trust your harness and carabiners. But with the blue skies, crashing waterfalls and verdant meadows interspersed with ruddy rock, there’s surely no better view in this already gorgeous box canyon. Via Ferrata is not quite walking and not quite climbing, says one of the TMTA devotees who helped devise the route; rather, it was Kroger’s way of bringing some of the excitement of his global travels to his own backyard, and it became something built by the community, for the community. It’s a beloved, secret adventure, high above the San Miguel valley. cindy steuart

climbing photos by chason russell

summer/fall 2011

www.TellurideMagazine.com

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Profile for Telluride Magazine

Summer-Fall 2011 Telluride Magazine  

Telluride Magazine: San Juan, Bridal Veil Power Station, Roadtripping the Skyway, Telluride Regional Food Network

Summer-Fall 2011 Telluride Magazine  

Telluride Magazine: San Juan, Bridal Veil Power Station, Roadtripping the Skyway, Telluride Regional Food Network

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