CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The “Iron Way” is an experience like no other, but there are only a few places in America where you can enjoy such an adventure.
Via ferratas are built-in metal routes that allow people to climb up vertical or near vertical rocks and steep terrain without needing rock climbing skills. Although the original via ferratas were built in the Alps to help soldiers get to high elevations more easily during World War I, modern-day versions are made of steel cables and rungs and let people climb mountains as easily as climbing a ladder.
Only a few dozen places across the country offer a via ferrata experience, and almost all of them are on the West Coast. NROCKS’ route at Nelson Rocks, in Pendleton County, West Virginia is the longest via ferrata east of the Mississippi River and includes about a mile of climbing and several miles of hiking. According to the NROCKS website, the trek usually takes between three and a half and five hours, depending on the group, and is considered moderate difficulty.
Worried about being more than 200 feet above the ground? NROCKS uses a two-carabiner lanyard system to make sure that no one is at risk of falling, and everyone who takes the climb must be at least 13 years old and take a safety course.
The only other major via ferrata on the eastern half of the U.S. is at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, and although that via ferrata offers more routes than NROCKS, it’s hard to beat the view from Pendleton County, which looks over Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia.
A climb at Nelson Rocks costs $150 per person for the guided tour and is available year-round. During each full moon, NROCKS also offers Full Moon Tours; the next one available is for the Hunter’s Moon on Oct. 27-29, 2023. More information is available on the NROCKS website.