The Upstream OVF Route
New for 2022, we are proud to introduce the recently constructed “Upstream” OVF Route in the Uncompahgre Gorge! If you’ve previously done the classic “Downstream” route then this is a must-do follow up adventure!!
Beginning at the same entrance venue as the Downstream Route, the new Upstream Route crosses the gorge on a high three wire bridge, suspended almost 100 feet above the mighty Uncompahgre River. This leads to a technical traverse to another unique feature – the Helix Ladder. After the steep climb, a series of traverses and other climbs through the “Cliffs” section bring you to a suspension bridge a little more than 1/3 of the way through the route. This also serves as the only other exit point on the route.
Another long climb and a number of interesting features and challenging sections take you further into the gorge, giving the whole experience a more wild and remote feel. Overall, the Upstream Route is more difficult than the Downstream Route, as it features fewer rungs and requires increased reliance on natural features for progression – often requiring the use of more traditional rock climbing movement with your hands and feet. Participants on this route should have either: a) previously completed the Downstream Route with a guide, b) have previous rock and/or alpine climbing experience, or c) have completed similar more technically oriented Via Ferrata routes in other venues in the US or Europe.
Upstream OVF Ratios
Due to the more technical nature of the Upstream OVF Route, we are offering this trip at a 3:1 client-to-guide ratio so that our professional guides have the ability to instruct in specific movement skills and characteristics while on the route.
We feature guiding and instruction with exclusively IFMGA/AMGA Certified and Trained Guides and Instructors.
May through October
Optional Start Times:
- Sunrise Via – 7:30 am
- Regular Via – 8:30 am
- Late Start Via – 10:00 am or 12:00 pm
Costs – Summer 2023 Pricing
3:1 – $219 pp
2:1 – $269 pp
1:1 – $419
No Hidden Fees
- Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- All Via Ferrata gear (Petzl harness, helmet, EAS VF Lanyard)
- Use of Black Diamond sticky rubber approach shoes
Ouray Via Ferrata Itinerary
We will meet in Ouray at a location of your choosing – typically either at the San Juan Mountain Guides Office (710 Main St. Ouray, CO), your local hotel, or elsewhere in downtown Ouray. From there it’s a short trip up to the trailhead where will begin the walk up the road to the entrance of the Via Ferrata. We’ll gear up and do a short explanation of the specific via ferrata lanyards that you will be utilizing during the adventure.
As we progress along the route, various challenges and individual section intricacies will present themselves to the group. There are fantastic opportunities for pictures along the way. A number of inspiring features on the route make for one of the most memorable adventures you have ever done!
Eventually we will wind our way all the way back to the exit of the Via Ferrata at what is known as “The Upper Bridge” on County rd 361, where you can either walk back to town or your vehicle. The round trip adventure from downtown Ouray, to the Via Ferrata, and back to Ouray takes approximately 4 – 5 hours (depending on group dynamics etc.).
Ouray Via Ferrata Equipment List
|Via Ferrata Lanyard||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The SCORPIO EASHOOK via ferrata lanyard is designed for users weighing 40 to 120 kg, in compliance with the EN 958:2017 standard. It is equipped with two EASHOOK carabiners with a wide opening that adapt to all hand sizes. The two retractable arms are equipped with an anti-twist system for more comfort.|
|Lightweight Gloves||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Double-layered leather protects the palm and other high-wear areas. The back is made of abrasion resistant, breathable stretch nylon, ensuring comfort and fit. The low profile neoprene cuff with Velcro closure features a reinforced carabiner hole for attaching the gloves to your harness|
|The CORAX is the versatile harness par excellence: easy to use and comfortable, it is designed for rock climbing, mountaineering or via ferrata. This adjustable harness is available in several colors and in two sizes, to fit all tastes and body shapes.|
|Climbing Helmet||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Durable and very versatile, the BOREO helmet is suitable for climbing, mountaineering, caving, via ferrata, canyoning... Thanks to its hybrid construction, the helmet is both low-profile and head-covering. Protection against lateral, frontal and rear impact is reinforced.|
|Balaclava or Buff||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Simple, effective and infinitely adaptable, Original BUFF® headwear is the product that started the multifunctional headwear revolution. At its core is a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and able to control odor. We recommend the BUFF for all of our programs as a multi-purpose insulation piece and trendy headgear!|
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
Before Your Trip
Can you climb a ladder? Are you excited to try new things? This would be awesome for you! The Ouray Via Ferrata is appropriate for all ages and ability levels and is a great group or family outing.
There are no prerequisites for the Ouray Via Ferrata trip. All you need is a great attitude, sense of adventure, and the gear. We’ll take care of the rest!
Follow Up Climbs
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO, however, many airlines now offer direct flights into Montrose – especially during the summer and winter months.
It is also possible to fly into Grand Junction, Durango, Telluride, or Denver CO. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of these airports.
Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Montrose, CO: 45 minutes
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 5.5 hours
Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!
Registration & Cancellation
Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.
- Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- All Via Ferrata gear (harness, helmet, via ferrata rigs)
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before, during, or after the program
- Guide gratuity
- Lunch food or snacks
- Personal hiking/climbing clothing
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
- Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides
Book This Trip!
We Offer Online Registration
- Click on Book This Trip
- Select your Program dates
- Enter your Info and Payment