A via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) is a protected climbing route involving iron cables and ladders to secure the climber found in the Alps and certain other locations. They are always conquered by foot. But one crazy mountainbiker had another idea…..

VIA FERRATA on a mountainbike is a short film covering the very first kickass descent ever by Pro biker Harald Philipp of a fixed-rope via ferrata climbing-route on a Mountainbike.

haraldPhilipp (Small)

Harald Philipp

The history of the via ferrata

The origins of via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but via ferratas are strongly associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops. However, many more have been developed in recent years, as their popularity has grown and the tourism benefits have become recognised. Over 1000 via ferratas now exist.

The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 3 to 10 metres (9.8 to 32.8 ft)) fixed to the rock. Using a via ferrata kit, climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. The cable can also be used as aid to climbing, and additional climbing aids, such as iron rungs (stemples), pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges are often provided. Thus via ferrata allow otherwise dangerous routes to be undertaken without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing or need for climbing equipment (e.g. ropes).

an example via ferrata (Small)

A tyical example via ferrata route in the Alps

Via ferrata on a mountainbike

Professional mountainbiker Harald Philipp had been seeing via ferratas all around him while biking around the Dolomites for years. During one of those rides he came up with the daring idea to find a via feratta he would be able to ride on his bike.

His eye fell on three ‘klettersteige’  (german name for via ferrata) in the amazing Brenta Dolomites. At respectively the Via Ferrata of Benini, Vidi and Sentiero Orsi Harald Philipp rode >90% of all the downhill-sections

via ferrata on a mountainbike (Small)

via ferrata on a mountainbike

Christoph Thoresen filmed Harald Philipp’s bikeride in the amazing Brenta Dolomites with a drone and it resulted in a kickass film of the first ever ride on a via ferrata.

Harald Philipp about the ride:

It was one of the best rides I ever had, especially the run down into the valley when the Via Ferrata was done and the filming was finished. But I honestly don’t want to do this ride again. It’s stupidly dangerous, feels triple as exposed as it looks and there is a lot more uphill-climbing and ladders involved than the video shows. You think about doing this tour as well? I really recommend to walk these fantastic route without a bicycle. 

Have a look at the amazing – and indeed scary – video here: