Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nelson Rocks
Via Ferrata

Nelson Rocks Preserve (NRP) is an outdoor recreation area located in the scenic North Fork Valley of Pendleton County, West Virginia. The Preserve is a privately owned and funded organization dedicated to the preservation of Nelson Rocks as a natural, scenic and recreational resource. Public access is currently offered for via ferrata climbing.

Yes, our daughter, Sarah, and husband, Jeff, climbed the Via Ferrata this past Saturday along with friends Alicia and Drew.

A via ferrata (Italian for "iron way") is a type of mountain climbing route which has a safety system permanently installed, making the climb suitable for persons without prior training and using minimal equipment. The climber is attached at all times to a steel cable which runs along the entire route; no climbing rope is generally required. Steel rungs, ladders, bridges and similar installations are used. This helps to keep the physical difficulty of the climbing well within the ability of reasonably fit first-time climbers, while providing access to high, vertical faces and extreme mountain terrain which would otherwise be accessible only to experienced, roped climbing parties.

Via Ferrata systems have been popular for decades in Europe, where over 300 routes are open to the public, but are relatively new to North America. Built in 2002, the Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata was only the second of its kind to be established in the United States. The route gains hundreds of vertical feet of elevation over half a mile of climbing, leading up to a thrilling, exposed summit with unforgettable views of the Allegheny mountains. Truly West Virginia's wildest outdoor adventure and not for we geriatric folks!

The first via ferratas were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry. The world's highest via ferrata, at 3,800 metres, is located at Mount Kinabalu in the state of Sabah, Malaysia.

Sarah and Jeff really enjoyed the climb. It was exciting and exhilarating were Sarah's description of the experience. Her parents words were "soooo thankful for a safe and enjoyable climb".


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