Via Ferratas What is via ferrata Ferrata (German: Klettersteig) – in other words a protected route. The name comes from Italian and it means “iron path”. It is a path in a difficult, almost inaccessible terrain, equipped with securing and artificial progress elements, such as securely fastened steel cables, ladders, metal steps (clamps), platforms or other aids. Such protected routes then allow people with no rock climbing experience to climb up in relatively safety (when basic rules are observed). Thanks to this, beginners can also manage precipices or even slightly overhanging walls. Recent ferratas are not only built to enable people’s ascent, but also to that include passages that make the climb more difficult and more interesting. Rock cities These three areas in the north of the country are well known for their bizarre rock formations and they are paradise for enthusiastic climbers. Looking at them from the ground is mind-blowing, but looking out from their peaks is breath-taking. In all these areas, you can enjoy both a romantic background and the opportunity to conquer difficult rocks. Equipment A ferrata visitor must have the required equipment, which in the first place includes a helmet, normal climbing harness (or full body harness), fall protection, gloves, etc. You can ask for some advice either in a rock climbing equipment rental, or a store. However, you definitely must have a good head for heights and you have to be minimally physically and mentally fit. Furthermore, the less body weight your hands have to carry when climbing on the steel cable or a ladder, the better. www.skalnimesta.cz Difficulty levels Even protected routes have different difficulty levels, determined by the total length of the route, difficulty of the most exposed points and their length. However, there is no uniform system; each mountain area uses a different scale. For example, in Austria, routes are marked with A (very easy trails) to F (the most difficult, only for trained and fit climbers). The Italian system has five points with the abbreviations F – MD – D – MOD – ED (F = easy, ED = extremely difficult). Even though the Czech Republic is not a mountainous country, it is a country with unique sandstone rock formations that invite the building of protected routes. The following pages present two of the best known and most visited places.