Scaling the Rockies on the Mt. Norquay Through Ferrata in Banff

Cautiously stepping out on the slender plank that bounced beneath every step, I tightened my grasp on the skinny cables serving to me preserve my steadiness and glanced down previous my toes to the valley flooring beneath and puzzled but once more, “what was I pondering?” I’m not a thrill-seeker. I don’t dream of scaling mountains.

Actually, I are likely to keep away from threat. However then I hear the voice of my teen daughter urging me on and I bear in mind. This. This is the reason I agreed to do the Mt. Norquay Through Ferrata in Banff. As a result of she loves mountaineering and journey programs. And I like her.

There’s nothing fairly like going through and conquering a bodily problem to spice up your confidence and up your badass quotient. And there may be not a teen woman round that couldn’t faucet into that effectively of self-confidence and sense of accomplishment when going through the each day obstacles of highschool. And admittedly, most mothers of teenagers may use that too when trying down the barrel of the challenges of parenting.

Difficult ourselves, pushing ourselves past our consolation zones, and doing it collectively. That is what creates the mother-daughter bonds that I attempt to construct. Bonds that may final over the take a look at of teenage angst and the rising pains of adolescence.

I need my daughter to take a look at me and never see a “cool mother,” however see a robust mother — a robust girl who is ready to tackle fears and bodily challenges and bought the job carried out. My hope is that she is going to develop right into a self-confident, empowered girl who works exhausting and realizes that the perfect issues don’t at all times come simple.

Is that an excessive amount of to anticipate from a four-hour climbing tour on the Mount Norquay Through Ferrata? In all probability, however it’s a lifetime of those actions and challenges which have introduced us up to now. And up to now, she is shaping as much as be fairly superior, and perhaps just a bit bit badass.

Climbing the Through Ferrata Banff was a real spotlight of our Canadian Rockies itinerary. Searching for extra issues to do in Banff? Don’t fear, not the whole lot is sort of as difficult! Actually, driving the Icefields Parkway or taking a horseback journey in Banff is definitely a breeze in comparison with the Banff Through Ferrata!

Tamara and Hannah at the top of the Via Ferrata Mt Norquay

What to Anticipate from the Mt. Norquay Through Ferrata Banff

Notice: We obtained complimentary admission to the Through Ferrata from Mount Norquay in change for this trustworthy assessment. All opinions are my very own.

A Through Ferrata is an assisted mountaineering expertise. Italian for “iron highway” or “iron path”, I presume for the iron holds and rungs used to help your climb, you will discover Through Ferrata programs in mountain locations world wide, comparable to Quebec, Alaska, Switzerland, and, in fact, Italy. Nevertheless they aren’t as ubiquitous as treetop journey programs, so after we noticed the chance to take a Through Ferrata tour when visiting Banff Nationwide Park, we knew we should always seize the possibility.

Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, one among Banff’s “Large 3” Ski Mountains positioned simply minutes from downtown Banff, provides 4 totally different Through Ferrata excursions in the summertime months. There’s the two.5-hour Explorer Route, 4-hour Ridgewalker Route, 5-hour Skyline Route, and 6-hour Summiteer Route. These cowl totally different terrain and have totally different options or obstacles, so you can simply return many times for various experiences.

From these Through Ferrata routes, we opted for the 4-hour Ridgewalker Route. Since that is an assisted climbing expertise, you want zero mountaineering expertise, just a few common athleticism and sense of journey.

Every journey begins on the base lodge the place you get equipped with helmets, harnesses, carabiners, and any rain pants, footwear, or day packs that it is advisable to borrow. A extremely skilled ACMG-Licensed information leads every small group and conducts a brief demonstration and security briefing earlier than everybody boards the chairlift.

Mt Norquay chairlift
On the Mt. Norquay chairlift — do I look nervous but?

On the best way up, maintain a watch out for the bighorn sheep that like to graze on the slopes and close to the historic Cliffhouse Bistro on the high. When you unload on the high of the chairlift, everybody goes by way of a brief climbing course to follow find out how to clip into the metal cables which can be your security web all through the climb.

Once you attain the top of the cable, it is advisable to unclip one carabiner, maintaining three factors of contact on the wall always, and clip again onto the subsequent part earlier than transferring the subsequent carabiner over.

You’re answerable for your personal security on the market however the twin system and harness will prevent from falling all the best way off the mountain (though dropping and banging in opposition to the stone wouldn’t be too enjoyable both.) To climb the Through Ferrata, you do must comply with directions and be ready for bodily exertion.

We joined a four-hour Ridgewalker tour of about 8-10 individuals, which began with a brief uphill hike from the Cliffhouse to the start of the course. After clipping in, our first problem was the lengthy suspension bridge product of planks.

Often, these don’t hassle me. I actually didn’t have any hassle crossing the rope bridge in Northern Eire, though that had sturdy netting alongside the perimeters. This one threw me for a loop although, because it was bouncier than anticipated and didn’t have the facet netting, I couldn’t assist feeling like I used to be going to topple off.

Via Ferrata plank bridge
Hannah crossing the suspension bridge

Fortunately the group didn’t thoughts an excessive amount of as I shuffled alongside, keen to place this behind me. It seems that was essentially the most difficult a part of the day for me, and solely due to that irrational concern that may generally paralyze us. However fortunately Hannah’s encouragement and my want to not lose face in entrance of my daughter made me push by way of as a result of it simply bought higher from there.

That is after we actually began to really feel like we had been mountaineering. Shuffling alongside slender ledges. Utilizing iron rungs, like a collection of ladders, to tug ourselves up the sheer rock face of the facet of the mountain. Balancing on tiny footholds, and in search of crevices within the rock to hold onto, as a rock climber, Hannah was in her glory.

climbing the Via Ferrata

Earlier within the journey she instructed me that she had at all times dreamed about touching a cloud and puzzled what it could really feel like. Would it not be fluffy? One thing you can truly really feel? Quickly our heads had been actually within the clouds and feeling a moist mist on my cheeks I reminded her that she was now touching a cloud, even when it wasn’t like she had dreamt.

Mt Norquay in the clouds

After a brief break the place we wolfed up a fast snack, sipped our water, and shed a couple of of our layers, we headed up for the ultimate ascent to the very best level. The final bit on the cables was straight up. There have been instances when my calves had been cramping from balancing on tiny footholds whereas ready for the group up forward to slowly discover their manner.

top of the Via Ferrata Banff

But the sluggish tempo allowed me to handle in my very own manner. I can solely think about how shortly Hannah, who has been climbing at indoor gyms for years, would have scurried up that mountain and the way I’d have lagged behind in any other case.

climbing to the top of Mt Norquay

There have been positively a couple of moments once I needed to inform myself to simply not look down. But there have been others once I felt like I used to be on strong floor and I used to be ready to go searching and benefit from the spectacular views and breathe within the contemporary mountain air, chuckling to myself about how a lot my husband would completely freak out if he was requested to do the Through Ferrata.

And I admit I like getting Mother factors once I can do one thing higher than Dad.

View from the top of Via Ferrata Mt Norquay Banff

Once we unclipped on the finish of the route, we discovered that we weren’t fairly at our remaining vacation spot. There was nonetheless a brief hike as much as the precise summit of the mountain. The views of Banff, the Rocky Mountains, and the valleys beneath had been completely superb. The solar was shining and it was an ideal day. We had been drained however felt so happy with our accomplishments and felt prefer it was a fantastic expertise.

Nevertheless, our time on the high was restricted as clouds began to roll in and nobody was enthusiastic about mountain climbing downhill within the rain so we shortly started our descent. There have been instances when the route down was steep and we had been clipped onto cables as soon as once more. However the hardest half was most likely the impression on my previous knees as we crept down the steep slope. Fortunately we had been nearly again to the Cliffhouse earlier than the skies opened up.

As a substitute of using the chairlift again within the rain, we determined to make use of our low cost coupon to have lunch on the Cliffhouse Bistro. I loved a well-earned beer and a few scrumptious lime-chipotle beef gorditas whereas Hannah chowed down on some bao buns. It appeared like a significantly better selection than the fare provided within the North American Lodge cafe down beneath.

Gorditas at the Cliffhouse Bistro
Gorditas on the Cliffhouse Bistro

By the point we completed, the rain had cleared for our chair carry journey again down the remainder of the mountain. Ultimately, I used to be exhausted and my physique was aching all over the place. I couldn’t wait to get to our subsequent cease in Lake Louise and soak within the jacuzzi tub. I used to be additionally actually, actually glad that we did this journey collectively. Particularly when she thanked me emphatically and instructed me she was happy with me. Effectively earned I say, effectively earned.

However now that I’ve shared my facet of the story, I’ve requested Hannah to share her tackle our Ferrata journey.

A Teen’s Tackle the Through Ferrata

When you concentrate on it, doing a Through Ferrata could be very intimidating. You’re climbing a mountain with out a rope, and the one factor separating you from falling a whole lot of toes is your harness and a cable. Nevertheless, after we climbed the Through Ferrata at Mt. Norquay in Banff this summer season, I used to be hyped.

For some background, I like mountaineering, so this most likely wasn’t as scary for me as it could be for the typical individual. When my mother instructed me about it, I jumped on the alternative for the journey. The Through Ferrata was one of many issues I used to be trying ahead to most on our journey.

I imply, it’s not precisely an expertise you may get wherever, and we had been about to do it in Canada’s lovely Banff Nationwide Park. What’s to not love? Anyway, I used to be tremendous excited to get to do it, and so by the point we bought up the chairlift, I used to be itching to go. And, after a fast security presentation, we did.

Guide Jesse at top of the Via Ferrata
Hannah with our information Jesse

We began by mountain climbing as much as a plank bridge throughout a small valley. I like these kinds of options in journey programs, so I used to be having a bit of enjoyable with it: taking a peek over the sting, stopping to admire the view (and for an image!), and even seeing how a lot I may get the boards to wiggle beneath my toes earlier than I bought nervous.

Lots of the different individuals on the tour (my mother included) weren’t so captivated with that individual component, however I cherished it. As we made our manner up the mountain, I discovered myself slipping into a straightforward rhythm: clip, unclip, clip again on.

And so we climbed the mountain, little by little. There weren’t any extra difficult plank bridges, however there was one level the place we bought to hold off the mountain for a photograph opp, which was fairly cool.

Hanging off the Mt Norquay

After a protracted vertical climb, we bought to the highest. Effectively, nearly. We first stopped for a fast snack after which hiked the remainder of the best way to the height. 

As soon as we had been there, we had the chance to go searching and take some photos of the encompassing space, which was completely lovely. After taking within the view, we walked throughout the mountain ridge and began fastidiously selecting our manner down the valley to the bottom of the path the place we started the climb. On the finish, we rode the chairlift again down and let our expertise sink in.

Surprisingly, we each actually cherished it. I went into it anticipating to adore it, however I knew my mother wasn’t fairly as excited as I used to be in regards to the prospect of climbing a mountain. Regardless of that, we each had a extremely good time and loved attending to have a singular expertise collectively in such a unprecedented place.

It was a refreshing change of tempo from merely mountain climbing across the nationwide park; you get to see the realm (and get some train in) whereas nonetheless getting to understand the pure fantastic thing about the park round you.

plank bridge on the Via Ferrata
Plank bridge from above

Suggestions for Climbing the Through Ferrata Banff

  • Carry measurement day pack that may maintain an additional layer of garments, snacks, and water. If you happen to don’t have one, you may borrow one without spending a dime.
  • A rain layer is beneficial however for those who don’t have rain pants, they’ll lend you one.
  • Put on comfy garments and durable mountain climbing boots with good tread.
  • Carry easy-to-eat snacks like fruit, granola bars, and so on. — simply do not forget that it is advisable to perform your trash.
  • Be certain to pack a big water bottle.
  • Put on or convey sun shades and apply sunscreen to your face and uncovered areas because the solar will be robust at that altitude.
  • Use the lavatory earlier than heading up the mountain as it will likely be a couple of hours earlier than you’ve got one other probability.
  • Don’t plan to climb the Through Ferrata Banff in your first day on the town. As a substitute, give your physique time to regulate to the altitude and drink a number of water whenever you arrive.
  • If you’re afraid of heights, the Through Ferrata can be very difficult. If you happen to actually need to strive it, begin with the shortest course.
  • You might need to speak to customer support earlier than selecting a course to search out out what options every course makes use of such because the plank bridge, cable bridge, and so on. in case there are some that you’re not comfy with.
  • The climbs exit rain or shine, until there may be lightning within the space. If you happen to don’t need to climb within the rain, you might need to wait to e-book till you may see the climate forecast.

If you’re planning a Canadian Rockies trip, make sure to try my Canadian Rockies itinerary options.


If you are looking for adventure in Banff, our number one thing to do during our Banff vacation was the Via Ferrata mountain climbing course at Mt Norquay. #banff #viaferrata
What to expect when climbing the Via Ferrata in Banff on a vacation to the Canadian Rockies. #banff #canadianrockies

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