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9 Things to Know BEFORE Booking Via Ferrata in Whistler

9 Things to Know BEFORE Booking Via Ferrata in Whistler

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The resort village of Whistler is a true outdoor playground with stunning mountain scenery, and we think one of the best ways to soak it all in is by tackling the Via Ferrata! Now we aren’t pro mountain climbers, so that’s where the appeal of a Via Ferrata course comes in.

If you’ve never climbed an iron pathway before, the Via Ferrata tour goes to the top of Whistler Mountain and after our experience, we can say it’s a great one to start with. The views are epic, so if you plan on visiting Whistler during the summer, make sure to include this in your itinerary. 

We spent a lot of time in Whistler while living in Vancouver, and we can confirm that the Via Ferrata here is one of the best experiences – especially if you’re an adventure-seeker like us. Keep on reading for our tips on everything you need to know before tackling the course!

1. About Via Ferrata 

Bailey smiles as she climbs up rocks during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Such a great time!
A shot of people climbing a steep cliff during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Up, up, and away!

So, what is a Via Ferrata, we hear you ask?

Via Ferrata is Italian for “Iron Way.” It consists of metal rungs, cables, and ladders that are fixed into the rock face of a mountain. I would describe it as a huge jungle gym that allows you to climb mountains safely and efficiently. We felt much safer than scrambling up the mountain thanks to the harnesses and built-in path showing us where to go.

The concept was born in the Italian Dolomites in World War I. A lot of fighting went on in the mountains, and so iron pathways were built to help troops navigate the peaks and to move equipment more easily. 

After the war, climbing clubs began to make these Via Ferrata more accessible to the general public, and they became more popular across Europe throughout the 20th century. Since Canada is so famous for its mountain scenery, it should come as no surprise that these iron paths eventually made their way over to the Rockies. 

The Whistler Via Ferrata starts at the top of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This is where we met our guide before hiking for around 40 minutes across a glacier, which really kicked things off on a high note. 

A shot of people climbing whistler during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Certainly not a walk in the park!

After arriving at the course, our climb lasted for about 3 hours. The route covers 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) and 260 meters (850 feet) of elevation gain. It goes all the way to the summit of Whistler Mountain, which is 2,181 meters (7155 feet) above sea level. That’s pretty dang high! 

Trust me, when you see the views, you will be SO glad that you put the effort in. Plus, we thought it was a nice reward to take the chairlift back down the mountain after our climb.

What stands out for us about the Via Ferrata in Whistler is that it’s a moderate-level course, so it’s challenging but still suitable for beginners. So if you don’t have any climbing experience but still crave adventure in the mountains, the Via Ferrata in Whistler is just the ticket. 

Related Read: See which gondola snagged the top spot in our comparison of the best gondolas in Vancouver.

2. How much is Via Ferrata in Whistler, and what’s included? 

Bailey stands in the snow on whistler listening to a guide during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
The guides are great.

The Via Ferrata alone costs $209 CAD, which includes a professional guide and safety equipment. However, it still requires getting to the top of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola! 

We didn’t want to worry about booking the gondola ticket and climbing experience separately, so luckily Viator has the option to book a combo deal which includes the Via Ferrata and your Peak 2 Peak Gondola ticket for $279 CAD. This made our day nice and easy without having to make separate bookings. Plus, it’s actually cheaper than booking direct because Viator’s prices already include taxes. That’s what I call a win-win. 

3. Should you book in advance? 

The gondola back down from the top of whistler, canada, during via ferrata
After a tiring climb, the gondola down is great.

Yes, definitely! The Via Ferrata in Whistler is a really popular thing to do, but there’s a maximum group size of 6, so it books up fast. We had our hearts set on doing the climb, so we didn’t want to take the chance that the tour would be sold out for when we were planning to be in Whistler.

Also, when booking the Via Ferrata with Viator, you get free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour. It’s definitely better to secure your spot in advance rather than risk missing out! 

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

4. When can you do Via Ferrata in Whistler?

Daniel pointing at whistler behind him and smiling during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
We had some great weather that day.

The Via Ferrata in Whistler is generally open from mid-May until early October. However, this is a weather-dependent activity, so some years it may open later if there’s still too much snow on the mountain. 

The best months to do the Via Ferrata are July and August, when you can all but guarantee the snow will be gone and the weather will most likely be balmy, with lots of bluebird days. 

The Via Ferrata is normally open every day from when it opens in mid-May until early September. During late September and early October, it only opens on weekends, before it shuts altogether for the winter. 

And in terms of time of day, Via Ferrata tours are at 9 am or 1:30 pm. You’re likely to get the best conditions in the morning, but it doesn’t make a huge difference to be honest. We typically go for morning tours just so we have more of the day left to explore.

5. Does Via Ferrata in Whistler require a lot of strength or experience?

Bailey and another person climb with the rockies behind them during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
A nice little workout!

I’d say there’s some upper-body strength required, but you don’t need any experience to climb the Via Ferrata in Whistler. Don’t panic – you don’t need to be the Hulk to climb this pathway or anything like that!

I will warn you there is a lot of climbing up ladders involved and we broke a sweat during our climb for sure. Basically, as long as you’ve got an okay level of fitness, you’ll be totally fine. 

6. What should you wear for Via Ferrata?

Daniel navigates the rocks during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Shorts and shirt were just fine.
Daniel hanging onto a rope in his gear smiling during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Don’t forget your sunglasses!

We both dressed in comfortable, activewear clothes so that we could easily move around on the Via Ferrata course. For footwear, our trusty hiking boots came in handy! But if you don’t have a pair, you can rent them on the day of the climb.

The weather up in the mountains can change on a dime, so it’s a good idea to pack a waterproof jacket, any extra layers, and some gloves because it can be cold at the top. We wore backpacks while climbing the Via Ferrata, so we could keep warmer clothes in there just in case we needed them.

Sunglasses are also a must, and make sure to bring some sunscreen along. Even though we felt a bit like we were packing for the beach and not the mountains, the sun reflects off of the snow up here, so we found it got really bright!

If you overpack (guilty over here!), just talk to your guide when you arrive at the office at the meeting area before the climb. They were super kind and totally willing to store anything we didn’t want to bring with us.

7. Is the Via Ferrata in Whistler suitable for families?

People getting a saftey briefing during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Getting our safety briefing

It’s great for families with teenagers, as the minimum age to climb is 12 years old. A ticket for kids aged between 12 and 16 years costs $189 CAD (or $259 CAD with the gondola ticket), so they get a reduced rate. This is the kind of thing that I loved doing with my family when I was a teen! 

8. Is Via Ferrata in Whistler scary? 

Bailey climbing rocks with a snow field behind her during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Just a little steep!

A little! 

During our climb, it was quite scary looking down as we got higher and higher up the cliff. However, some parts of the rock face aren’t fully vertical, so it’s not always looking straight down on a sheer drop, which I found much less intimidating. In fact, the drops aren’t actually that high at all, so while it’s enough to make your heart beat a little faster, I’d say it’s not as daunting as it looks. 

With that being said, if you do have a serious fear of heights, then it will be scary. Our guides were really friendly and patient with everyone, so if you’re looking to push through your fear in Whistler, then you will be in good hands. 

Still, in terms of Via Ferrata overall, we rate this course as moderate. It’s suitable for first-timers, and Whistler is a very touristy place, so this pathway is designed to accommodate beginners and people with limited experience. 

Related Read: If you’re planning to visit Banff, make sure to read our guide to all the best stops between Whistler and Banff.

9. Is Via Ferrata in Whistler worth it?

Bailey poses and smiles with the rockies behind her during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
So much fun!

Yes, 100%. We loved it! 

Our climb was absolutely awesome, and the views were some of the best that we’ve seen in Whistler. The experience was a little scary, but this Via Ferrata is actually very modest compared to some of the ones in Europe, which can be downright terrifying! It makes climbing so much more accessible and we had that huge sense of achievement (and bragging rights!) to say we climbed to the top of the mountain. 

Other Things to do While You’re in Whistler

Brandywine Falls, Canada
Brandywine Falls

While you’re in Whistler, the Via Ferrata isn’t the only thing you need to check out. Below, I have listed just a glimpse of my favorite things to do in Whistler!

  • Go ziplining – For epic views of rivers, glaciers, lakes, and mountains, why not soar above them? Whistler has some incredible ziplining tours and the one that tops them all is the Sasquatch® Zipline! It’s the longest zipline in Canada and the craziest one we’ve been on (in a good way!). You’ll zip 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) down the face of Blackcomb Mountain – talk about an unforgettable experience!
  • Ride an ATV/buggy – One of our very favorite tours in Whistler was a buggy tour! In our small 4-wheel utility vehicle, we zoomed the mountain tops and admired all of the panoramic views (when we weren’t splashing in the puddles, that is!). If you prefer to ride an ATV, that is possible too with the same company. The buggy tour is $335 CAD whereas the ATV tour costs $209 CAD.
  • Go hiking – The nature all around Whistler is stunning! Some of our favorite spots include Brandywine Falls. It’s only a short walk from the parking lot to this stunning waterfall surrounded by rough cliffs. And of course, you can’t miss the hike to Joffre Lakes. These three alpine lakes are an unreal shade of blue (the second one is my fav!) you’ll have to see to believe.
  • Scenic flight – These are not cheap but are 100% bucket-list worthy! There are a few different options here but the most unique are the scenic helicopter flight with a mountain landing and a seaplane flight that departs and lands from the water. Both options have mindblowing views and the helicopter tour even includes a glacier landing!

Where to Stay in Whistler

Our room at Adara Hotel in Whistler, BC
Our room at Adara Hotel had a suite below it and a bedroom upstairs!
Bailey on our balcony with a view at the Adara, Whistler
The view and pool were our favorite!

As you can imagine, Whistler is a mountain town filled with great hotels. These are our favorites for a range of budgets:

Luxury – $$$

For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, but another option slightly cheaper is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for luxury travelers because it’s only 250 meters from the closest gondola/chairlift. On top of that, it has all the luxury facilities you’d expect such as a heated, outdoor pool and two hot tubs with mountain views, a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, as well as an included breakfast. Oh, and all suites have a full kitchen!

Suites start at $200-$400 CAD depending on the time of year. Reserve your suite at the Pan Pacific here.

Mid-range – $$

Our go-to hotel in Whistler is the Adara Hotel. For us, it is the perfect mix of luxury and affordability with everything you need for a comfortable stay. They offer underground parking and are only a one-minute walk from the Whistler Stroll, so you can park your car and leave it while you explore Whistler Village. They also have a beautiful outdoor pool and hot tub offering mountain views – perfect for relaxing in the evening. The loft rooms are our favorites and most also offer mountain views from the upstairs patio.

Rooms are typically in the $200-$250 CAD range, but we’ve snagged the best deals when booking a room at Adara a couple months in advance on Booking.com.

Budget – $

For budget travelers, Pangea Pod Hotel is a great option. It’s a basic hotel with pod-style rooms with clean, well-looked-after facilities. The location is also really good right in the heart of Whistler Village. One thing to note is this is not your typical hotel and it does lack privacy due to the style of rooms. However, for location and price, it’s the best low-cost option.

These pod-style rooms start around $125 CAD – even in the peak summer season! It’s also easy to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Those are just a few of the many amazing places to stay in Whistler – read our blog for more info!

Thanks for reading!

Dan and Bailey smile for a selfie during Via Ferrata, Whistler, Canada
Thanks for reading!

The Via Ferrata in Whistler is such a fun outdoor adventure, and we thought the views were definitely worth the effort! Hopefully, our guide has answered all your questions and helped you decide if tackling the Via Ferrata is right for you.

If you’re still debating a visit to Whistler, check out our review on if visiting Whistler is worth it, and check out one of the related guides below:

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How to Get from Vancouver to Whistler +20 EPIC Road Trip Stops

22 BEST Places to Visit and See on Vancouver Island