Telluride's Krogerata

Telluride's Krogerata

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Aid Climbing


When I heard of this via ferrata, I was surprised. I always imagined those iron ways in Dolomites, or some other parts of the Alps, but here in Colorado, and so close to my current home? I definitively had to go and see it.

Via Ferrata was supposed to be somewhat of a San Juan secret. Many people talked about it, but very few knew of its location. The route became recently more popular and also more busy with locals and tourists. And once you find its start, it is easy to follow. When doing my research on this "Iron Way", I came across statements like it is installed somewhere (not to be revealed) in the mountains of Colorado. I believe that this is not true anymore, I know many people who did it, and I have seen many people on its trail.

The most exciting section
Viewing Via Ferrata through the aspensCliffs where it is located - you can see a small ledge between the aspens


Brief history of Vie Ferrate

The concept started in the Dolomites. In World War I, the Austrians and Italians fought a feroucious war in the mountains of the Dolomites – not only against each other, but also against the hostile conditions. In the particularly frigid winter of 1916 thousands of troops died of the cold, falls or avalanches. To help troops ascend at high altitude, permanent lines were fixed to rock faces and ladders were installed. These were the first vie ferrate. The wartime network of passages is now maintained by Club Alpino Italiano, and many new routes have been added. Via ferrata are graded according their difficulty. Grade one usually involves nothing more than assisted walk. Grade five demands serious climbing skills.


Via Ferrata de la tour du Jalouvre, France
Via Ferrata in France

France developed vie ferrate as well, and they also developed its rating:

F – Facile: Easy, suitable for initial introduction
PD – Peu Dificile: slightly difficult, suitable for beginners and possibly children
AD – Assez Difficile: moderately difficult, suitable for accompanied beginners
D – Difficile: difficult, for those accustomed to the sport
TD – Tres difficile: very difficult, physically demanding, for regular participants
ED – Extremely Difficile: Extremely difficult, very physically demanding, and suitable for experienced practitioners with a high level of fitness.

Many other countries developed similar mountain ways: Austria has many (I have done one in Hohe Wand, Austria), there are some in Canada, even China, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and Peru, and now even USA. I guess the cable route on Yosemite’s Half Dome is a via ferrata.

Those who embark on a via ferrata are advised to use normal climbing equipment (climbing harness, helmet, appropriate shoes etc.). You don’t need rock climbing shoes, light hiking shoes are fine. I have dome some via ferrata’s in keens. You can purchase via ferrata kit, which consits of two short length of rope or webbing linked to the harness, with a locking carabiner at the end of each line. This arrangement allows the user to always have one of their safety lines attached to the safety cable.
You can also use rope, or create your own via ferrata system with two long slings with locking biners. It is not very comfortable to take a fall when using the slings.

Story behind Telluride's Via Ferrata

Chuck Kroger – local explorer and climber – first came across European Via Ferrate back in 1967 on trip to the Alps. He traveled the world looking for adventure, but once he settled for good in Telluride, Kroger became a trail building fiend and an advocate for access to local wilderness and peaks. He eventually decided to built via ferrata here. Starting in 2006, Kroger used his climbing skills to ascend sheer faces, packing a rock drill. He wasn’t’ just a renowned climber but also a master ironworker. Kroger forged and fabricated holds in his workshop and tried to make the route as safe as possible, using 5 ½ inch bolts versus the 2 ½ inch size used in most climbing holds. Then cancer took hold of Kroger, but his friends helped him finish putting up the Via Ferrata before he became too ill. He died Christmas Day 2007. The route he left behind is his legacy and all who travel it pay tribute to his vision. Locals call this iron way The Krogerata.

Man, what are you standing on?
Just a little lower...


Who is Chuck Kroger?

Plaque to Chuck Kroger
Plaque in the memory of its founder

Charles F. Kroger pulled into Telluride in 1979, ready to start another chapter in his life that was already crammed with offbeat escapades and exploration. He was scruggy from river trips and time on the road, and Telluride wasn’t much different. It still sported the dust and edginess from mining days. Telluride later lost much of its roughness, and nowadays is known as a place which attracts rich and famous people.

During college, he and his friends pioneered the sport of buildering: traversing a chapel ledge, climbing the Golden Gate Bridge, and spelunking trips through the vents than linked Stanford’s campus buildings. By his senior year, Kroger was the president of the Stanford Alpine Club. When he graduated in 1969 in geophysics, one of his professors remarked that Kroger spent more time climbing rocks than studying them. By his early thirties, he was climbing his way into record books. A quiet and unpretentious legend among late-60s climbers, he had several first ascents in Yosemite and the Sierras ans was the first climber to ratchet four big wall routes on El Capitan in one season. Climbing took him to Alaska, the Alps, the Soviet Union, South America and eventually Colorado.

Before discovering Telluride, Kroger took a climbing trip in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. He and his buddies scaled three peaks in 45 days. The extreme climbing filled them with fear and loathing: they ran out of food, ate from a trash pile, and were hoping for some miraculous rescue. They eventually walked out – irrevocably changed. Three of the six men married within weeks of their return. Kroger was one of them.

He met his wife in the Grand Canyon. Kathy was working as a parking ranger, and Kroger was hiking remote canyons and basing himself out of a beat up VW van. After a backpacking permit incident, they realized they had a lot in common. They married in Las Vegas. The two of them found their way to Telluride in 1979.
When in Telluride, he was employed by construction companies. eventually BONE (Back of Nowhere Engineering Construction) emerged with Kroger and Kathy as owners and host of employees. The company’s projects are distinct for their quality. Kroger was a self-taught welder who’d often be seen in the late night darkness of his shop, surrounded by arcing sparks and the white glow of a welding torch. He’d experimented with the concentrated heat until he had what he wanted.
As an artist and craftsman, Kroger’s joyful creations were infused with his philosophy that art should move and be humorous. He donated his pieces to nonprofits throughout the region. He volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and an organization called Corazon in Mexico, where he built and repaired houses for those less fortunate.

A six-time finisher of the Hardrock 100 – a grueling 100 mile race wit a 33,000 foot elevation gain, the Imogene Pass Run and other mountain competitions.

With his love for mountain trails, Kroger enlisted friends to clear new routes and build new paths. One of his final feats was a series of custom crafted steel steps and handholds, modeled on via ferratas from Dolomites.

Telluride's Krogerata

The scenery of Telluride iron way
The scenery of Krogerata - Bridal Veil Falls

Even though some of its sections resemble a hiking trail more than a rock climb, make no mistake, this climbing route requires technical abilities and gear. An accident of this route could easily have fatal consequences. Once you find its start, the route is easy to follow.
Telluride’s VF is unique in that it traverses horizontally rather than climbing vertically. This creates its own set of potential hazards, such as increasing the chance of your self belay attachment being severed in a horizontal swinging fall, or of not being able to regain the route if you have fallen below it.
The start is located past Bridal Veil Falls above Pipeline Wall Pipeline Wall . Once on the Krogerata just follow the trail, which at the end of the cables gradually descends to the road leading to town. Telluride Mountain Club suggests to retrace your way back to avoid crossing private property, which is located on the descent towards Telluride.
Count about 2 hrs for the actual via ferrata. Don't take small children along - some sections of the exposed part require long steps and long reaches. And remember it is very exposed.

Nice map and illustration of its location is here.

So, Telluride's secret is revealed. I found the route exciting and challenging enough. I was proud of my son being able to complete it (yes, I have heard of people turning around). The autumn when the aspens are turning gold is particularly beautiful part of the year to explore it. Thank you Chuck for creating this fun adventure.

Adendum Please note that this is not a walk in the park. Read the Telluride's mountain club information (link below) prior attempting this route, and consider hiring a local guide.

External Links

Telluride Mountain Club info on Via Ferrata.


Gallery - as you are going through the Krogerata

Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls
Autumn aspensGold aspens
Looking back to the parking lotParking lot below
The unmarked turn offThe unmarked turn-off
Boss on a strollBoss on a stroll
Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls
Telluride belowTelluride below
SwitchbacksSwitchbacks on the road
Hiking partEnjoying the views
Easy section of the via ferrata
Kroger s benchKroger's Bench
Man, what are you standing on?
Just a little lower...Difficult down climb move
some steps were long to reachSome moves required a long step
The most exciting sectionIt does get exciting
Horizontal Via FerrataHorizontal traverse
Telluride belowAnd another fun traverse
Another fun section
Crawling sectionCrawling section
Another hiking section
Leaving via ferrataLeaving Via Ferrata
Deer on descent trailDeer on descent trail


Post a Comment
Viewing: 21-40 of 51

MarkDidier - Oct 10, 2011 5:35 pm - Voted 10/10

Great Article!

Thanks Liba for posting this. I'll confess to having never even heard the term Via Ferrata until reading your article, but hey I'm just a hiker! All of the historical information was rather fascinating and made for a very enjoyable read.

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 11, 2011 12:00 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Great Article!

Thanks Mark for visiting. Well, via ferratas are sort of unique to the Alps, and rather a rarity here.

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 11, 2011 10:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Wow!

Thank you for visiting and your comment. Yes, the route is pretty unique, and although I prefer "clean" climbing too, this was a nice change.

Pete Castricone

Pete Castricone - Oct 12, 2011 7:31 pm - Voted 10/10


Hi, Liba. This is one of the more interesting reports I've seen, I like the historical references. I am sort of fond of cold iron on a mountain face. Brings back memories of eastern Europe. And I agree with you...just because it's via ferratta doesn't mean it's easy. One question: where does this route go?

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 13, 2011 11:12 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Interesting

Thanks. It goes just along the cliff - amazing views everywhere. Telluride Mountain Club suggest to return the same way b/c there is a private property if you decide to descent down to Telluride.

erial - Oct 12, 2011 8:27 pm - Hasn't voted


Just when i thought i'd experienced all the wonders of Telluride, you've introduced a new one. Amazing place continues to get more amazing.

Angel's Landing in Zion and MacRae Peak at Grandfather Mt, NC might also qualify as having via ferrata although hardly at the difficulty as you've documented at Telluride.

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 13, 2011 11:01 am - Hasn't voted

Re: telluride

I think that local people want to keep it secret, and the descent trail (if you decide to walk towards Telluride) does cross private property, so it may get closed.

JJ - Oct 13, 2011 2:05 am - Voted 1/10

Double Security System

Please explain the logic behind this system?

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 13, 2011 10:45 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Double Security System

The rope was for sections without cables.

San Juaneer

San Juaneer - Oct 15, 2011 10:39 pm - Hasn't voted

the Krogerrata

I've been enjoying the Ferrata in Telluride for three years now. I would warn that the winter traverse is extremely dangerous as it traverses the runout of several major slides from Ajax Peak. I've been waiting for proper conditions myself and only comfortably pushed it through Thanksgiving to date... No proper Winter as of yet. It could be done, but proper conditions evaluation and assessment is a must. Three years of waiting so far and no go! Maybe this year, we'll see! My favorite route is not as described, but to traverse from West to East, either the entire mile and a half, or an out and back past the "main event" and return... This route ascends Marshall creek and offers you roughly 1,000' vertical feet as a warm up, then increasing exposure along several incrementally challenging cabled sections before reaching the "main event". The East end is rather bourgeois and does not make for an adequate predicate to the full experience, in my opinion. I had the good fortune to lead a large family across this summer with the probable youngest ascender short roped to my hip (8 years old, 1 month shy of 9) quite an experience! He freaked at the "main event" but was able to stabilize, turn his emotion off and complete! Awesome to witness!!! 9 of us that day, quite a large party. Ascenders must realize that they are putting Pipeline climbers in jeapordy and be extremely careful not to kick loose rocks off at the East end of the Ferrata. Consider the safety of others as well as yourselves. Rock on!

San Juaneer

San Juaneer - Oct 17, 2011 12:33 am - Hasn't voted

Re:the Krogerrata

JJ, thanks for your applause on the one end, Winter on the Krogerrata would be extremely dangerous, and on the other... I really didn't notice any blatant mistakes or misinformation in Liba's write-up.


chamguide - Oct 16, 2011 4:40 am - Hasn't voted


looks pretty sketchy to me, wouldnt want to see someone fall on parts of that


TimB - Oct 17, 2011 8:51 pm - Voted 10/10

Enjoyable article

nice article and pictures-I found it informative as well as interesting.
I Wasn't aware of the origins of "Via Ferrata" before I read this.

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Oct 17, 2011 9:38 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Enjoyable article

Thank you Tim. I really appreciate a positive comment.


TimB - Oct 18, 2011 11:55 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Bad Info

Agreed- with borutbk and rockclimber77 both.


Rockclimber77 - Oct 18, 2011 12:57 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Bad Info

some of us use no protection???? so what your really saying is that the gear is optional on this 4th class route? and had we just soloed it, well then mabee you would give the page a big thumbs up?

cswarr - Oct 18, 2011 10:00 am - Hasn't voted

nelson rocks, wv

A super-fun, little-or-no-rock-climbing experience necessary via ferrata exists just south of Seneca Rocks in West Virginia called the Nelson Rocks Nature Preserve. It has real exposure, spotters, a fun cable bridge, and spectacular views. Here's its SP page:


dkiehn - Oct 20, 2011 5:30 pm - Hasn't voted


Looks like a good one, via ferrata's can be great fun. However I think the potential dangers of a homemade set should be noted, as it is possible to reach falls up to factor 5 on via ferrata

Not that you need to rush out and buy a set, but it is important to be aware of and maybe include a screamer or two in your homemade set-up.
Also on shock loading slings,


winmag4582001 - Jun 16, 2012 8:26 pm - Hasn't voted


I'm taking my son here in a few weeks and he wants to film the traverse. About how long did it take from start to finish so we know how much memory to pack in the gopro? THANKS!


TommyMac - Jul 24, 2012 1:00 am - Hasn't voted


Yes, this via ferrata line is almost entirely a traverse (horizontal), however, it needs to be stated clearly that using slings for your attachments is a very bad idea. Slings have no energy-absorbing stretch, and even a short fall can put huge load forces on the sling and (more worrisome) the carabiners, which can break. So, don't be cheap! Buy a via ferrata lanyard about $90 that includes the carabiners. It's an inexpensive insurance policy. And most importantly, all readers here should know that using slings and even short sections of climbing rope are NOT safe on more traditional, vertical via ferrata lines where falls of over 6 feet are possible. Be safe!

Viewing: 21-40 of 51



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