During World War I, Italian soldiers created a vast network of cables and ladders, called a via ferrata (also known as “iron path”) high in the Dolomites as a way to outmaneuver Austrian troops.

Now similar systems of handrails and rungs are being built around the world to create an exciting new way to explore mountain peaks—one that requires no complicated knot-tying or advanced rock climbing know-how. (Most routes can be done in sneakers and require minimal equipment.)

Here, the most breathtaking vie ferrate in the U.S. and beyond, where even novices can discover the thrill of the climb.

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