Via Ferrata | Try it out when visiting Riva del Garda

Looking down on Riva del Garda
Chris on the Via Ferrata course
What is Via Ferrata?

A via ferrata is an Italian term which means ‘iron path’ which means  a protected climbing route.  Its generally  built with a steel cable rail fixed to the rock, metal steps, ladders, suspension bridges and zip wires.  There are different levels of Via Ferrata and the route we chose was pretty easy. 

Did it cost anything?

For the actual Via Ferrata you need the correct equipment. Climbing harness and via ferrata attachment.  This means that  you’re able to hook onto the cables and wires around the course and a helmet. We already had the climbing harness but we hired the via ferrata attachment and helmets from The North Face store in Arco. The hire of the equipment was around €20 for both of us with a deposit which is returnable on return of the equipment.

Tip of the trip 

Whilst hiking or walking in the area, don’t rely on the bus service and take plenty of layers. The weather can change from tropical to torrential in a heartbeat but most of all – Enjoy !

Via Ferrata Lake Garda
Via Ferrata Lake Garda
Via Ferrata course
Via Ferrata Course
Our Via Ferrata Story

It was the day we’d been waiting for. The day of our holiday that would see us in our climbing harness, ropes attached and hard hats on our heads.  Cima Capi Fausto Susatti was our target for the day which was billed as an easy(ish) Via Ferrata for folks new to this particular sport.

The start

I was excited at the prospect of being roped to the mountain on precarious ledges and climbs however I was less excited about the 3hr walk up the mountain before the Via Ferrata part started.  Never the less it had to be done and what made it fun was the views that spread out behind us as Riva del Garda and the surrounding area came into view again and again.

Riva del Garda
The start of the walk along the coastline road
Riva del Garda
The start of the walk along the coastline road
The Route 

It was a straightforward path upwards, steep in some places and well marked.  We met a few folks on the route but mostly it was just us 2.  The sun was shining and conditions were near perfect.  We had several layers packed as with any mountain the conditions can change in an instant so we were well equipped with waterproof and extra layers to be used should needed.

Via Ferrata Time

Before long it was midday and the first part of the via ferrata was in view.  Hats & harnesses on and clips secured on the wire rope we made our way upwards through the first narrow gully that would take us higher. 

Riva del Garda
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Via Ferrata
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Steel Ropes & Ladders

We were then presented with a series of ladders, ledges and exposed pinnacles that was all very thrilling and over far too soon.  There were 2 German chaps in front of us (one who was very scared indeed) and we met them again when we’d reached the summit where the Italian flag flew. 

There was a book at the summit where you could sign to say you’d been there but there was no working pencil so we couldnt add our names to the log.

Riva del Garda
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Here comes the rain

On the way down the mountain the weather started to change and our extra layer and waterproof coats were now needed.  There was a lovely forested area that we walked through which was about the time we realised that time was going on and it was now late afternoon.  The lady at the tourist office had told us that the last bus back from the village below was at 6pm.   We had to make that bus as our climbing gear had to be back to the outdoor shop in Arco by 7pm.

Time for the bus

We quickened our pace as much as we could on the descent and arrived at the village about 5.30pm, well in time for the bus.  So, there we were, perched against the wall at the bus stop in the sleepy village and 6pm came and went with no bus.  We were about 10 miles away from Arco and at this point not sure if any bus would come at all.   We decided to stick our thumbs out and hope that some kindly walker type person would assist and get us at least back to Riva where the car was.   Fingers crossed someone would stop.

A Saviour

Many cars passed and it was now 6.20pm and we had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to make it back in time when a car almost skidded to a stop causing the moped rider behind to swerve at the last min to avoid hitting the back of the car.  In the car was a lovely lady who offered us a lift.  She lived near a lake close by and was heading to Arco to get some painting supplies and although spoke very little English we managed to have a chat about the weather and the fact that her washing machine was broken, a very random conversation.

Phew, all’s well that ends well

All was not lost, we made it back to the hire shop in time to return the equipment and made it back to our tent in time for a quick change and wander into Riva for dinner.  Dead on our feet we returned to the campsite completely shattered and fell asleep to the now familiar sounds of thunder accompanied by lightning and heavy rain………what a brilliant day !

Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda - Here comes the rain
Via Ferrata Route Lake Garda
Via Ferrata - waiting for the bus
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