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The craziest via ferrata routes in the world

photo by CC user Christophe Delaere on Flickr

Want to take your hikes to the next level? There are many via ferrata routes that allow you to scale mountains that casual scramblers won’t be able to tackle on their own.

Here are four of the world’s craziest…

1) The Dolomites, Italy

If there is only one via ferrata route you do in the entire world, make it The Dolomites. Situated in the Italian Alps, this network of steel cables and handholds is widely considered to be the oldest and first of its kind to be erected on the globe.

Put into place a century ago during the First World War, the bridges, ladders, iron grips and other aids enabled Italian soldiers to move through otherwise inaccessible terrain, which helped to keep units of the Austrian Army at bay.

Stand on top of peaks that are normally the preserve of experienced mountaineers – just remember to focus on the next handhold … don’t look down!

2) Sacred Valley, Peru

The high mountain terrain of Peru is home of some of the world’s most inspiring highland vistas; however, they are even better once you get up off the valley floor.

From almost one thousand feet up, views of the Urubamba River and the farms tended to by the descendants of the Incas will have you snapping photos with one hand, while holding on for dear life with the other.

If the vertigo-inducing heights make going back down a bit too harrowing, or if you are seeking an adrenaline rush to end your steel-bar assisted hike, there is an option to take a zipline back to the base.

Those that are truly fearless will love the chance to rappel down a cliff face, as not only does it feel great, but you get to see the faces of disbelief on those too intimidated to try this exit for themselves.

3) Mount Kenya, Kenya

Those that are in tip top shape and are traveling through Africa might be interested in tackling the world’s highest via ferrata, located on Mount Kenya in the country of the same name.

Situated at the breath stealing altitude of 16,300 feet, the gorges and ridges of this extinct volcano are only an appetizer that prepares you for the main course, which are the remains of one of Africa’s last surviving glaciers.

4) Chang Kong, China

Does cheating death give you the thrill of a lifetime? If this sounds like a great time to you, walking along the world’s scariest via ferrata in China might be of interest.

Chang Kong is internationally famous for featuring crudely nailed boards and decades old iron anchor points, both of which are the only thing stopping you from plummeting thousands of feet to your demise.

Some parts have been closed to be shored up since this bowel-loosening path got much more popular, but most parts of this route that leads toward a monastery will cause most acrophobics to break out into a cold sweat.