What is a via ferrata?

Reach the otherwise impassable

Via ferratas bridge the gap between hiking and rock climbing. These spectacular fixed routes make it possible to explore an otherwise inaccessible mountainous landscape, whether you’re a novice or an expert. 

Professional guides lead the way along set routes that traverse across rock faces and over peaks. Wearing a harness and secured by safety lines built into the mountainside, you'll navigate special features like iron rungs and scenic suspension bridges. It all makes for an adventure you’ll be talking about for decades to come. 

Explore the four guided via ferrata experiences at CMH Cariboos, Bobbie Burns and Bugaboos. 

Our via ferratas

From the downright incredible to the all-time awe-inducing, via ferrata climbing is, without doubt, a bucket list lifetime experience. These optional excursions during a heli-hiking trip are best suited for those looking to challenge themselves a little and amp up the adrenaline during their time with us.

Take a look at our four via ferratas:


Zillmer Canyon Via Ferrata

Zillmer Canyon at Cariboos

Follow the path of an ancient slot canyon route carved by an immense, glacier-fed waterfall. Securely clipped into your harness, your guide will lead the way as you venture into the canyon, before emerging above to spectacular views and endless waterfalls. The Zillmer Canyon Via Ferrata is like nothing else you've ever experienced. 

Activity level: Beginner to Advanced 

Duration: 3 to 8 hrs (route dependant) 

Elevation gain: 650 m / 2,132 ft 

More info Dates & Prices 


Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata

Mt. Nimbus at Bobbie Burns

Traverse rock walls, cross a 600-meter-high suspension bridge and summit towering granite peaks. As one of Destination Canada's Canadian Signature Experiences, a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada, this half or full-day adventure will redefine your perception of a ‘natural high’. 

Activity level: Intermediate to Advanced 

Duration: 5 to 8 hrs  

Elevation gain: 600 m / 1,972 ft 

More info Dates & Prices 

Conrad Glacier Via Ferrata

Conrad Glacier at Bobbie Burns

You’ll follow an ancient path that was charted millennia ago by the rushing waters from the glacier above. You’ll spend the day winding your way through vast canyons, over roaring waterfalls, and culminate by topping out at a plateau overlooking the astounding mass of the ice. 

Activity level: Intermediate to Advanced 

Duration: 5 to 10 hrs  

Elevation gain: 914 m / 3,000 ft 

More info Dates & Prices 

Skyladder Via Ferrata

Skyladder at Bugaboos

Rise above the scenery with your guide as you scale the iron rungs to the best vantage point in the mountains. No mountaineering skills are needed on this breathtaking via ferrata, as you reach magnificent peaks with ease. You’ll cap off your day with either a stunning hike or a flight back to the lodge for a cold drink on a sunny deck. 

Activity level: Intermediate to Advanced 

Duration: 3 hrs  

Elevation gain: 213 m / 700 ft 

More info Dates & Prices 

You should note that while we do everything we can to get you on the via ferrata, it's not guaranteed. It’s a bonus addition that’s weather dependent and is always at the guiding team’s discretion.

Guest on Zillmer Canyon Via ferrata
Zillmer Canyon Via ferrata - CMH Cariboos

Watch: Matador Network

Discover how to climb the ‘iron path’ as Matador Network demystifies and explains all that is awesome about via ferratas. 

Frequently asked questions

If you're reasonably fit and strong, and comfortable with some degree of heights and exposure, then you can climb a via ferrata. You do not need prior climbing experience to enjoy the experience. 

In addition to fitness, there are two other considerations: 

  • Age: The minimum age to participate on the via ferrata is 12 years old. A parent must also accompany any minor (ages 12-18) on the via ferrata. Ultimately, any minor’s participation is at the discretion of the guides.
  • Weight: Guests must weigh a minimum of 100 lbs and a maximum of 250 lbs. This weight limit is based on the safety guidelines of the equipment used on the via ferrata.

Broadly speaking, expect to encounter more exposure to heights than you would on a typical hiking trail. However, the amount is different for each via ferrata. 

Some, like Mt. Nimbus at CMH Bobbie Burns, have bridges and other features with higher exposure over notable heights, and include a rapel down from the peak. 

Others, like Zillmer Canyon at CMH Cariboos, have several route options (green, blue, black), allowing you to choose a route with lower exposure while still ascending to a great viewpoint (minus the rapel down). 

If you have questions about a specific route or would like a recommendation, ask us. 

No. The via ferrata is an optional activity that’s included with standard trips and certain specialty trips. Even if it’s an available option on your trip, it’s not a guaranteed activity. 

Although we do everything possible to get you out there, your participation is weather dependent and always at the guiding team’s discretion. For example, if it’s very windy or raining heavily, the via ferrata will be closed to everyone for safety reasons. Or, if after careful consideration your guide determines you aren’t a good match for the experience, you’ll be encouraged to enjoy the regular hiking program and skip the via ferrata. 

No. The via ferrata experience has no additional cost. 

Due to the type of terrain featured on a via ferrata route (akin to rock climbing), there are limited options to exit once started. If you are truly uncomfortable and wish to exit, let your guide know. If the opportunity to exit becomes available, your guide may be able to arrange it. However, this is never guaranteed and depends on the route, the timing, and a handful of other factors. 

If you’re unsure if you can or should do the via ferrata, ask your guide when you're out hiking on day one and talk about it together – they will provide supportive, professional advice to help address your concerns and evaluate if you’re a good fit for the experience. If you’re interested, don’t be shy about asking! 

The via ferrata is an optional activity that’s included with standard trips and certain specialty trips. If it’s an available option on your trip, we recommend that you register your interest in doing the via ferrata at the time of booking, as space may be limited. 

If you change your mind at the lodge and decide you don’t want to do the via ferrata, there is no problem with cancelling. 

And if you didn’t previously express your interest but once you reach the lodge you think you’d like to participate, tell your guides as soon as possible so they can try to accommodate your request. 

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“This experience was so unbelievable and beyond expectations. Can't wait to do it again at another lodge. It was all fabulous!!”

Marsha Akers on the Mt. Nimbus and Conrad Glacier via ferratas, CMH Bobbie Burns

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