The Iron Road – or as they say in Italy: Via Ferrata
Have you ever wanted to try outdoors climbing, but don’t have the skills, equipment, or experience? Then you should try a via ferrata trail! Via Ferrata means ‘iron road’, and is a mountain trail that has been made easier to ascend by adding iron steps, grips, and cables that help you up the mountain. For the most part,these kinds of trails allow you to walk just using the iron cables to support or pull yourself up, but you have to wear safety gear (a via ferrata sling, helmet, harness, and gloves) and some parts of these trails might include some actual climbing. Walking a via ferrata trail is easier than traditional climbing, but don’t fool yourself, it is still hard work and not for everyone.
Via Ferrata trails are highly popular and you can find them all around the world. In this post we will give you a review of the beautiful via ferrata in Loen, Norway.
Destination: Western Norway, Sunnmøre, Loen
Vertical meters: 0-1011 meters
Season: Spring, Summer, Autumn
Type: Climbing and hiking
Special Equipment: Via ferrata sling, helmet, harness, good shoes, gloves
Loen from above
Walking the Via Ferrata trail in Loen is a fantastic way to see the beautiful scenery of Loen from above. The trail meanders up the mountain, giving you wonderful surprises all along the trail. The route has different levels of difficulty, and you can choose the one you feel most comfortable with. You will have to wear safety gear, which you can rent from Loen active.
You can either walk the route with or without a guide. If you don’t have much experience with climbing or don’t know the area, it is recommended that you hire a guide. At least bring someone who knows the trail.
Hang in there
The trail starts down by the fjord in Loen, near the hotel Alexandria. At the very beginning of the trail you have to walk some pretty steep hills, but don’t let them scare you off; the fun part is about to begin. After you have walked for about 440 meters up hill and into the forest, you will reach a plateau, with a placard that describes the via ferrata. Now is the time to start suiting up. Get your gear out, and get ready to have some fun.
The first hundred meters are pretty easy, with little actual climbing. You should still click yourself in by the cable, just to get the hang of it. When you are climbing a via ferrata, it is important that you use both of the carbines, so that one of the carbines on your via ferrata sling is always connected to the rope/ steel wire. This way, you will never be unsecured, even though you are passing an obstacle.
After climbing and walking some hundred meters, the via ferrata splits. You can choose to go the ‘extremely difficult’ route, or the ‘difficult’ route. The ‘extremely difficult’ route is not for those with shaky legs. Although if you don’t have a fear of heights and are in generally good shape, you should manage it. The ‘difficult’ route is easier, but don’t be fooled, it is challenging as well. Be prepared to do some actual climbing on both routes.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the view
Puh… Once you have completed this part of the trail, you will be greatly rewarded! You will soon reach ‘Gudbrandsjuvet’. This is a canyon that you can cross by using a narrow hanging bridge, “Gjølmunnebrua” which is the longest suspension bridge in Europe, inside a via ferrata.
Remember to stop at the middle of the bridge, take a deep breath, and enjoy the spectacular view of Loen.
At the other side of the bridge is a viewing platform, where you can watch the rest of your party shakily cross the bridge.
You can choose to end the trip here, or you can continue up, and challenge yourself even further. If you continue, you will find a line bridge. This is a bridge consisting of only one wire for your feet (and support for your hands of course). Even line dancers would get shaky here, but once you have crossed it, what a feeling.
Everything that goes up has to come down
You’ll soon reach the end of the Via Ferrata cable, where you can take off your gear.
The trail back down can be a little challenging to find if you are walking without people who know the area (not recommended). Follow the construction trail, and you should see a sign after a while. If you want a more foresty route, you can also walk down the old trail, marked with red Ts. It might be a little harder to find your way back by using this trail.
If you have the opportunity to take two cars, you could park one at the start of the trail, and the other one at Opheim, as the trail does not end up at the exact same place as where it starts. If you don’t, no worries, it just makes the hike a little longer.
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