'Iron Paths' Climb Some Of Most Iconic Walls In The West

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Via ferratas require rock-face, cliff-y terrain, so it's no surprise that "iron paths" in the West can be found on ski and snowboard mountains known for their steeps.

Fixed “protection” on the rock, such as cables, steps, pegs and ladders allow inexperienced climbers to hook in and safely ascend on rock faces. Some via ferratas even incorporate hanging bridges. Reservations required for guided tours from 90 minutes to four hours. Here's a look at the "iron roads" within the trail-map boundaries of five resorts in the West.

The highest elevation for a via ferrata sits in Arapaho Basin's East Wall. A chairlift ride to mid-mountain, then an OHV ride gets to the base of the climb at 11,800 feet elevation. The full-day climb ascends 1,200 feet to the 13,000-foot top ridge of A-Basin. A shorter version goes to an abandoned mine shaft for a history lesson.

In the northern Rockies, Jackson Hole built the most extensive via ferrata in the West. A gondola ride delivers climbers to extensive route layout in upper-mountain Casper Bowl. A dozen routes – from introductory to most difficult – and a 120-foot suspension bridge await. Rates include two-hour practice climb, half-day option or six-hour full day on the rock, all spread across rock face with 500 feet of vertical drop.

In the southern Rockies, Taos Ski Valley has open a via ferrata complex on the famous cliffs of Kachina Bowl. At 11,500 feet above sea level, beginner and intermediate routes criss-cross the Kachina face and include a 100-foot-long bridge suspended 50 feet in the air. More advanced climbers move over to the infamous K Chutes that has a 50-foot cable walk.

In California, Mammoth Mammoth is one of two resorts in the state with a via ferrata. A gondola ride to mid-mountain McCoy Station arrives below the Caldera Overlook. Six routes await: three beginner, two moderate with a suspension bridge between, and one expert. Climbs are 180 feet long for three-hour private and 90-minute group tours.

The other is Palisades Tahoe, where the lower mountain's iconic Tram Face is ideal for fixed-route climbing. A 4x4 ride and short hike gets climbers to four routes of varying difficulty that ascend some 800 feet of rock wall. Routes were designed with kids in mind, and 4x4 await at the top for return ride to the Olympic Village.

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Mountain Collective Wyoming Pairing: Jackson and Targhee

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Here's a Rocky Mountain trip for Mountain Collective pass holders to get as much skiing and riding as they can -- without wasting time on the road or in the airport.

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On An Iconic Wyoming Peak, Ski Mountaineers See A Test

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Many people dream, talk and plan of skiing Grand Teton for years, only to be forced by poor conditions to start their wait all over. But the obsession never fades.

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More Than a Ski Hill

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Known for intimidating steeps, bounteous snowfall, and gobsmacking Grand Teton views, Jackson Hole looms near the top of every skier and snowboarder’s tick list. World-class runs like the South Hoback and Corbet’s Couloir keep starry-eyed visitors and grinning locals alike enthralled all winter long. Only recently, however, has Jackson Hole Mountain Resort been able to generate a similar buzz come summer.

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Backcountry Ski Entry From Resorts Reconsidered After Deaths

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The stairway to heaven may actually be a bootpack.

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Why a Ski Vacation During Covid Is Worth the Hassle

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Jackson Hole and other popular ski resorts in the West are up and running with varying Covid rules and limitations. For purists, that’s not such a bad thing.

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What America's Richest Ski Town's Handling of COVID-19 Says About the Country

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Tucked in the shadow of the Tetons, the town of Jackson, Wy., and surrounding Teton County is home to less than 25,000 full-time residents, but annually hosts over 2.5 million visitors.

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Inside Look: Here’s What We Know Right Now About Next Ski Season

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Yeah, we get it: With the rounding down of summer and the beginning of cool nights, the first signs of changing colors of autumn—and soon even the first snowfall—here in the high country of Colorado, where I sit writing from my home at 9,000 feet, it usually heralds optimism and stoke. 

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Taking Risks in the Backcountry Makes These Women Better Moms

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How these mothers move through the mountains can teach us all about risk assessment.

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Snow King, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Attractions Reopen Saturday

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Summertime plans are beginning to take shape at Snow King and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with attractions beginning to roll out for the season.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: March In Like a Lamb and a Lion

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March is here and, for most, it will come “in like a lamb” with limited storm systems and generally pleasant, Spring-like conditions to hit the slopes. A few locations will see a “Lion-like” start to the month, with heavy, fresh snow in the forecast. Here are the details on the conditions ahead.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Hints of Winter Weather Ahead

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A parade of fronts will move across the northwestern U.S. and Canada through the end of the week bringing snow to many peaks across the West. Meanwhile, a soggy Nor’easter primes the Northeast for colder weather ahead.

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Adaptive Ski Athlete Trevor Kennison

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Trevor Kennison doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.”

“It’s like this is what you have and you’ve got to deal with it, the cards you’ve (been) dealt,” Kennison told SnoCountry.com.

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Town Ski Area Series: Snow King Mountain Resort

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When you talk Wyoming skiing and snowboarding, no conversation can take place without mentioning the legendary Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. But just down the road, holding peaceful watch over the town of Jackson is Snow King Mountain Resort, a hidden gem with a wide variety of terrain to explore.

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Mountain Life Lessons: Ski Resorts For College Spring Break

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Whether you’re in it for first chair or last call, the best way to spend college spring break is on the sunny slopes of your favorite resort. SnoCountry took a look at some of our favorite college spring break destinations. 

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Jackson Hole Guide Removes Guesswork

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One of the best ways to enjoy skiing is to go on a guided outing – no thinking, just following and listening to tips and tales from an experienced professional. And it doesn’t matter if you are alpine skiing or Nordic skiing, a pro is a great way to go.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Quieter Weather Pattern…Great Conditions!

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In this week’s SnoCast, the weather calms down… briefly. After a hyper-active 1-2 weeks behind us, some light shots of snow will continue to add to an already outstanding season. 

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Your Very Own Ski Day With An Olympian

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We watch Olympians on TV every four years, but you don’t have to wait that long to rub elbows with skiing stardom. Several mountain resorts around the country offer opportunities to ski with their most prominent athlete ambassadors, and learn the slopes from a pro perspective.

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Wyoming's Antelope Butte Returns; Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee Celebrate History

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Wyoming, home to the Grand Teton Mountains and America's smallest population. Both these attributes bode well for skiers and snowboarders flocking to the state because after all who doesn’t love short lift lines, untouched powder and down-home service?

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Active Weather Pattern Into November

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We’re turning the calendar to November in this SnoCountry SnoCast, and with that comes more signals that winter is coming. A weather pattern featuring frequent storm systems will impact both the western and eastern areas this week.

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