For those who know me personally or through my blog, I am an avid rock climber. Wherever I go around the world, I will try to find out if the destination has any good rock climbing spots and try to squeeze in some time to hit the outdoors and experience some climbing. In the recent year, I am spotted climbing in Europe more often than my usual Asia spots like Malaysia and Krabi.
This road trip over in Costa Brava (Spain) with Cez and Agness from Etramping has found me experiencing climbing of a different kind (beyond what I am used to – which is usually bolted sport climbing routes on limestone rock) – I experienced Via Ferrata.
Via Ferrata – is a combination of alpine hiking and rock climbing. Unlike big wall rock climbing/ sport climbing, via ferrata uses more pre-fixed structures in the rock – like fixed metal ladders, cables, and steel bridges, all to provide access to areas that a normal top rope/ bolted route cannot.
So what are the different forms of rock climbing one can experience?
1. By the Sea: Via Ferrata at Saint Feliu de Guíxols
One big reason to come all the way to Costa Brava is to experience – the only Via Ferrata in all of Europe that is by the coast and sea!
It was an incredible experience traversing along the edges with the pristine turquoise clear waters just beneath our feet, and the gentle waves lapping against the yellowish brown rocky cliffs. Attempting this for the 1st time felt like a milder version of deep water solo in Krabi ( which was a crazy, if not – THE craziest thing I have ever experienced in my life)
From the images I have shared, you would be able to tell that the route requires you to have some equipment on before you embark on via ferrata. The full via ferrata route is actually free access to all, but one should rent and come prepared with the equipment – helmet, special harness with 2 safeties, slings and more. It is dangerous to try to do it on your own without safety equipment, as it is a very long trail and even for the most skilled climber, a little mistake or slip can be very detrimental.
The entire trail is about 500 metres long where you will be approximately 10 metres above sea level. Agness joined us for the earlier segment of the trail, which is comfortable for more beginner/ novice climbers who just want to experience a little climbing for fun. The more taxing and technical segment of the trail comes later on for people who would like a bit more of a challenge. But not to worry, one can ‘escape’ off in the middle to avoid the scarier part. There will be a ladder where you can climb out and it will bring you back to the beginning of the Via Ferrata.
Starting Point of the Trail: Find your way to Cala del Molí, where you get a good view of the surrounding coasts before you ”become’ a part of it. Francis from Aventura Girona tours was our incredible guide who was a great company and knows the surroundings and routes very well. He was also fantastic at advising us travel bloggers where the best photos spots on the route are – to show the beauty of the location.
What to see and experience on the trail?
The full experience for Via Ferrata is like a little elements course, where you cross bridges, climb ladders, traverse along the work and trust your feet on what you stand on.
Steel Bridges Everywhere!
Clear Turquoise Waters below your feet while you traverse
Safety Points and Photo Moments
As you can see from the below photo, there will be some spots on the route where you can rest ( make sure you have your sling clipped on) and take pictures. I will not encourage one to bring your big DSLR cameras as it WILL get damaged with all the traversing along the rocks, but a head-mount GoPro or your phone that can be safely stored in your pants with zips will be great. If you are generally a clumsy person, then better to not bring any at all as it might drop into the water and vanish forever.
So if coastal Via Ferrata by the sea is not your kind of thing and you prefer something with a bit more aerial view of the surroundings, there is another Via Ferrata to recommend, with a more jaw-dropping adrenaline kick.
2. Up the Mountain: Via Ferrata at Ribes de Freser
After our incredible experience by the sea, we were ready to experience a slightly different type of Via Ferrata – on the mountain rocks!
This Ribes de Freser Via Ferrata does not have the water just beneath your feet or the sea breeze, but as you climb higher up towards the sun, you can fill the wind going all around the mountains and the adrenaline starts to kick in! We had Jaume, our super pro guide from Escola d’esquí i muntanya Nord-Sud bringing us through the Ribes de Freser Via Ferrata experience.
Experience panoramic views of the surrounding hills and mountains while climbing the ladders, followed by crossing suspended bridges in the midst of the forests and trees. The full trail to get from the bottom to the top and back down again will take about 3 hours if you move at a good and steady pace.
3. Outdoor Sport Climbing in Solius, Spain
Our last but definitely not least – enough of Via Ferrata for now. Time to get back to doing some traditional sport climbing in Solius.
The surrounding view in this region is just breathtaking in this time of the year, with the new forest growing back even after a big forest fire that happened here in the past.
I would have loved to spend more time there just hiking and looking at the view, but unfortunately, we only had 1 afternoon there. For climbers who would love to check this place out, the type of rock here is granite rock and not limestone, so it takes a while to get used to the texture before you start climbing.
We had Francis once again from Aventura Girona, together with the very experienced rock climber Mark who is one of the founders of a bouldering gym in Solius. They took very good care of us the entire morning, with the safety procedures and briefing followed by recommending the best/ most fun routes to attempt that was within our climbing grade. Its Agness’s first time climbing so we were very excited for her to get the most out of it, yet we were also eager to start the climbs and check out the surrounding views.
All in all, we had a really great experience and the climbing was so rewarding all thanks to the breathtaking views we witnessed in each unique location here in Costa Brava.
Hence concludes my great rock adventures and 1st-time experience doing Via Ferrata in Costa Brava Spain. Are you hooked yet? When are you coming over to give them a try?
(To find out more about Costa Brava sights and attractions, click here)