We went up on the start of the explorer route and soul slabs which offer a good warmup to the main event for the new Skyline and Summiteer routes.
The Skyline and Summiteer are rated at 5 hours and 6 hours, respectively. These are some of the most ambitious VF adventures to date.
Once on the climbing portion I was surprised to get in a really cool chimney feature with holds on both sides of the precipice of the rock. We all agreed this was the most vertical climbing on the Via Ferrata and guide Tim even chimed in with “this is next level”.
I found the climbing flowed very well as it follows up the buttress onto the ladder feature and then continues across a high cliff (climbing the whole way) which kept my focus away from camera work and my hands and feet busy on the traverse. A new 2 wire bridge completes the corner traverse with a bit of a balancing act. After that the star of the show, a 150+ foot long suspension bridge!
The original Explorer and Ridgewalker routes do the suspension bridge right away, however these new routes leave the spectacular steps through space for close to the end of the climb. Putting the bridge that high up was amazing as you really get the feeling of walking above the whole mountain! The bridge itself is 3 times longer than the first bridge above the Cliffhouse Bistro, and the view opens right up to the whole valley. Amazing!
John Thornton, Norquay’s head of the guide program and ACMG Mountain Guide, created this route from what he called ‘the natural alpinist routes’ that he sees around the mountain. I look at this same rock face and don’t see anything, but John weaves some magic to create a very memorable climbing experience.
Although I don’t call myself an alpinist, I have some experience climbing, and this new route got my heart pumping! I love the fact that I can take my Dad or hiking friends on the Via Ferrata to give them a taste of what I love in the mountains.
On Canada’s 150th birthday will be the first opportunity for public to climb it. Come check them out for yourself and adventure close to Banff! Click below for more route information and booking options: https://summer.banffnorquay.com/adventures/via-ferrata/routes/