The Ultimate Via Ferrata Experience in West Virginia, USA
Y’all… why has no one ever told me to go to West Virginia?! I traveled the entirety of the United States in 2022 and West Virginia was a place that really took me by surprise. It is such a hidden gem! I particularly loved my time in Circleville, West Virginia hiking with Chi to the highest point in West Virginia and climbing my first Via Ferrata with NROCKS Outdoor Adventures.
In This Blog Post You Will Learn:
- how to prepare for your via ferrata climb with NROCKS
- a breakdown of the experience
About NROCKS Outdoor Adventures
NROCKS is a premier climbing center located in the Nelson Rocks in Circleville, West Virginia. They have fun and unique outdoor adventures to try such as the Via Ferrata that I tried, a zipline, and more. They even have campsites and lodging available on site as well. I definitely recommend staying in the area for a few days to check out the NROCKS property and hike Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia, less than 15 minutes away! You’ll be able to see it from your climb in the Nelson Gap.
NROCKS Outdoor Adventures provides both a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all guests. The staff is so kind and knowledgeable. They’re passionate climbers who prioritize both safety and fun. All necessary equipment is provided, and guides give comprehensive instruction to ensure that participants feel comfortable and confident during their outdoor adventure.
Note: There is no cell phone service in Circleville so be sure to download your maps offline ahead of time! There is wifi on the property.
About The Via Ferrata
NROCKS Outdoor Adventures offers an exciting via ferrata experience in Circleville, West Virginia. A via ferrata, which means “by way of iron” in Italian, is a climbing route that originated in Italy during World War 1 as a means to transport troops through the alps. It’s similar to regular rock climbing, but rather than using a rope, you attach two carabiners to a steel cable that is permanently affixed into the rock. Now via ferratas are used recreationally to make mountains accessible for even beginner climbers. The via ferrata at NROCKS allows you to climb over ladders and a 200 foot extension bridge over the mountains of West Virginia as well.
The via ferrata route at NROCKS includes options for both beginners and experienced climbers. It is designed to challenge all participants both physically and mentally while providing a thrilling adventure in the beautiful natural surroundings of West Virginia. Even if you don’t have much climbing experience, this via ferrata will be easy to pick up. Anybody can do it as long as you don’t have an intense fear of heights!
Preparing For Your Via Ferrata Climb
Make a Reservation
If you’re interested in trying out the via ferrata at NROCKS, it’s recommended that you make a reservation at least a few weeks in advance.
What To Wear
Comfortable and stretchy clothing: Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows for a full range of motion. Clothing made from breathable and moisture-wicking material can also help keep you comfortable and dry during the climb.
Layers: Wear layers of clothing so you can easily adjust your temperature as needed throughout the climb. You will definitely need to.
Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
Close-toed shoes: To protect your toes from scraping against the rock.
It’s also important to check the weather forecast before your climb and dress appropriately for the conditions. If it’s raining or if there’s a chance of thunderstorms, NROCKS will reschedule your climb for another day.
Climbing The Via Ferrata at NROCKS Outdoor Adventures
What To Expect
The Via Ferrata at NROCKS isn’t difficult to climb, but it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. The climb is about 1 mile long and should take roughly 3-4 hours to complete, depending on how far you go. During the climb, you’ll get to climb over two fins. You will gain 1085 feet overall, cross a suspension bridge that is 150 feet high and 200 feet long, and reach exposed heights of 280 feet. And it will be one of the best experiences of your life!
When You Arrive
I chose to do a sunrise climb, so I arrived on site the night before and met at the Welcome Center for my climb at 6:30. I was the only one signed up so early on a Tuesday, so I got to climb with just my guide, Amanda. We had some coffee, geared up, and hit the trail around 7.
What To Bring
- Gatorade, BCAAs, or other electrolytes
- Snack (I like to bring Clif bars, beef jerky, and a sandwich)
- A good attitude!
Provided For You
Experiencing The Climb – A Breakdown
The Via Ferrata looks pretty intense at first. Your very first move is going to be climbing a ladder in order to begin your trek around the first fin. Your guide will patiently guide you through the process, the safety protocols, and probably some nerves as well at this point. But don’t worry, once you get up and moving on this first little section, you’ll get the hang of it and start to feel the adrenaline rush rather quickly.
Once you reach the end of the fin, you’ll begin transferring to the other side of it. The in between section features a beautiful natural window in the rock, where you can see Spruce Knob on one side, the suspension bridge you’ll soon be crossing, and the rest of the valley you’ll be climbing over. Take a moment to really soak in the view. It’s one worth remembering, especially around sunrise!
Once you make it across the back side of the first fin, you’ll arrive at the star of the show: the 200 foot suspension bridge hanging 150 feet above the valley floor. It looks really intimidating, but you’ll get much more comfortable after you take the first few steps. The bridge can be intimidating at first because it does sway in the wind and if other people are climbing on it. But don’t forget that you’re attached to two cables the entire time. By the end, you might even be letting go of the bridge and doing yoga tricks instead like I was. Have fun with it and savor the moment, because it truly is a unique experience!
After the bridge, the hard parts are out of the way and now it’s time to reach the summit. You’re almost there! Make your way up the headwall, and enjoy the well-earned, stunning views from the very top. If you packed lunch or a summit beer, this is the perfect time to savor it. My guide Amanda and I enjoyed the beautiful, clear sky this day while she educated me on the area and shared her climbing stories with me.
It was an incredible first Via Ferrata experience, and I can’t wait for many more!
More Outdoor Adventure Nearby
If you’re looking to spend some more time outside in the West Virginia mountains aside from your Via Ferrata climb, I recommend driving turning right out of the property and driving just a few hundred feet until you arrive at the road leading to Spruce Knob. This is the highest point in West Virginia and I highly recommend hiking it during your visit to Circleville! I did my Via Ferrata for sunrise and hiked/did a sunset yoga session at Spruce Knob. It was the perfect combination of adventure that my body and soul needed! Spruce Knob Trail is really short and dog friendly. It’s about a mile long and features a fire look out and the highest summit in West Virginia. Chi and I had it all to ourselves at sunset on a Tuesday in early September, and it was absolutely perfect.
Learn more about NROCKS outdoors in Circleville West Virginia and book a reservation for your Via Ferrata here.
Want to climb a Via Ferrata with me in the place where they first originated?! Come to my Dolomites outdoor adventure retreat this fall! September 25-October 2, 2023. More information below.
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