Telluride’s Via Ferrata, initially a slightly-less-than-legal route built by Chuck Kroger, may become the first of its kind to integrate into the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
The Telluride Mountain Club has been working with local guide services and the general public to keep the route free and in good condition for years, but now they’re working with the USFS to complete certain upgrades required to incorporate the Via Ferrata into the government organization’s trail inventory.
According to KKCO11, USFS Norwood District Ranger Matt Zumstein initially came up with the idea to integrate around 2017-2018. The Telluride Mountain Club began engineering the route to fit International Standard ASTM F24, required by the USFS for integration.
“So right now, what’s happening is the local stakeholders, including the Telluride Mountain Club, are looking at issuing a request for proposal to have an engineer re-engineer the route to meet this different set of standards.” – Director and Co-Owner of Mountain Trip Todd Rutledge
Costs to upgrade the route to fit the standards will likely come in around $20,000. The Telluride Mountain Club is always accepting donations to help maintain trails, but direct donations to the Via Ferrata sustainability fund are possible. Todd Rutledge believes the integration could be completed by 2026.
“I expect that by the end of next year, we should have engineering and a new design in place. And then there’ll be a pretty expansive fundraising effort to try to raise money to complete the installation of whatever upgrades the engineering calls for.” – Todd Rutledge
A via ferrata, for those who don’t know, is a route built out of iron rungs, steel cables, and other forms of protection. These features create a sort of climbing/hiking route hybrid. Telluride’s Via Ferrata is fairly technical, and is not best suited for everyone. Those who are interested in exploring the trail should consider hiring a guide.
Image Credit: Telluride Mountain Club via YouTube