Vie ferrate (iron ways) are fixed-protection climbing routes that were pioneered by the Italian military to move troops and equipment across the Dolomites during WWI. With the advent of tourism in the 1960s and '70s, old vie ferrate were re-activated for leisure purposes, allowing non-climbers the opportunity to enjoy the type of dizzying mountain terrain otherwise only accessible to expert mountaineers.
Vie ferrate employ ladders, steel cables, Tibetan bridges and short zip lines to help people move across steep, rocky terrain. Hikers wear helmets and a harness equipped with two carabiner clips to ensure that they are always secured to safety cables.
In the last 10 years, Spain has developed over 50 vie ferrate, many of them in Andalucía. Climbing hot spots include the Serrania de Ronda, El Chorro gorge, El Torcal de Antequera and the village of Comares in La Axarquía. Novices can partake in vie ferrate on guided excursions with companies such as Vive Aventura and Al Andalus Activa. Good beginner-level vie exist in Ronda and Comares.