“A World of Wanderlusting” is a weekly feature here on GenTwenty. Make sure you check back every Tuesday to see where our wanderlust takes us next.
I sometimes forget that I live only a short drive from what is considered a world class tourist destination: The Rocky Mountains. Nestled amongst the mountains are Banff and Lake Louise – two very popular destinations for adventure seekers from around the globe.
To me, they’re just the mountains. A beautiful escape from a hectic week or an excuse to go hiking. Currently I can get there in about an hour or less, but I don’t often prioritize trips to the mountains (although a lot of other people do – I really need to work on this). This summer I noticed Mount Norquay, which is located very close to Banff, promoting their newest attraction the Via Ferrata, marketed as climbing but different and no experience needed it sounded easy and fun plus the pictures were gorgeous and it was something different to do.
Although this attraction is called Via Ferrata, this is actually a general term that is Italian for “iron road” and references a protected climbing route where there are steps and cables along the route and climbers can strap themselves in. The Norquay Via Ferrata is exactly this, a marked and carefully planned climbing route that allows people of all skill level to take part in climbing. There is a two hour and a four hour climbing option, and we opted for the four hour. I convinced a friend, who is actually a skilled climber and much more adventurous and fit than I am, to come along on the adventure.
The day starts by getting all your equipment and gear ready, you need a harness and a helmet. Hiking shoes are recommended, but my unequipped self chose to do it in regular running shoes which turned out to be OK anyway.
After you’re all suited up you take the gondola part way up the mountain where you meet up with your guide and practice clipping in and out on a practice wall until you’re all comfortable with the process – now it’s time to climb!
The climb itself was really just fun, the route was pretty easy since they have it so well planned out for you, but you can challenge yourself by not using the foot and hand holds and finding your own. There was also a fun extension bridge right at the beginning. On the day we did it the view from the top was a bit hazy due to forest fires in the area but it was still a great climb and we took a lot of pictures.
At the top there’s a short break before you go back down the other side of the mountain to the top of the Gondola where you started. They have a great clubhouse as well so if all that climbing made you hungry, be sure to grab a bit before taking the gondola all the way back down.