Via Ferrata approved for Sinks Canyon State Park; fundraising begins

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming State Parks recently approved the installation of a Via Ferrata in Sinks Canyon State Park moving it to the next step – fundraising around $33,000.

With the tourism economy in mind, the Via Ferrata is a grassroots effort spearheaded by Lander climber Sam Lightner through the Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (WRORC).

Via Ferratas are a “permanently cabled cliff-side trail that allows non-technical climbers to have a guided climbing and traversing experience in vertical terrain,” according to the Sinks Canyon Master Plan description.

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They originated for tactical military use in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, Lightner shared with County 10. The Via Ferrata which translates to “iron way” was used to help transport military equipment as the Germans and Italians competed for the higher ground in WWI.

They eventually became a popular outdoor activity across Europe, and in recent years have been popping up in the US. Neighboring states such as Colorado have a few and Wyoming’s very first and currently, only one was installed in Jackson Hole not too long ago.

This is a great way to give non-climbers a taste of the “world-renowned climbing” that we have here in Sinks Canyon, Lightner explained. This could draw folks to Lander and help with the economic growth of outdoor recreation. Via Ferratas in some areas have generated around $1M for the local economy.

Some recreators have been linking all the Via Ferratas in their travels, similar to how some folks visit all the National Parks in certain areas.

“The Via Ferrata will be located in, and managed by Sinks Canyon State Park,” said Habitat & Access Supervisor for Wyoming Game & Fish Department Brian Parker. “The route is located on the sandstone buttress on the south side of the canyon near the canyon entrance, adjacent to existing climbing routes.”

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Some private foundations are looking to assist in the funding, Lightner explained. They are also hoping to secure some funds through the Wyoming recreation/tourism budget, and private donations.

Community members, businesses, or organizations interested in helping fund the installation can donate to the Lander Community Foundation – you just need to note your donation is earmarked for the Sinks Canyon Via Ferrata. 100% of the proceeds will go to the installation and proceeding maintenance.

As soon as the snow melts and funds are raised, members of the climbing community will begin installing the Via Ferrata and follow the European standards since there are no US standards at this point. “The thing is incredibly overbuilt,” Lightner said.

You can find more on the Via Ferrata in the recently approved Sinks Canyon Master Plan found here. Below is a video of the one located in Jackson.

Click here to view all of County 10’s Sinks Canyon Via Ferrata coverage. 

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