My fingers were fading fast as I hung on to small crevices in the rock with everything I had. The rock face jutted outward. Below, I could no longer see the cliff I had climbed up, only air and a few climbers at ground level who looked tiny now.
A fall would mean certain death. But I didn’t have to worry about that. Extending from my climbing harness were two ropes and two clamps attached to a fixed steel cable.
Here at Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure, I would have to unhook myself to fall. Every few feet, the cable is anchored to the rock with a strong eyebolt, which one cannot slide past. The climber unhooks one clamp, moves it past the anchor, and repeats the process with the second. Using a third rest cable extending from my harness, I let go with my hands and dangled in the air. I had to search hard to find the nerve to do that.
Torrent Falls is located in Wolfe County near Natural Bridge State Resort Park. You can experience the exhilaration of rock climbing there without fear of falling if you follow the rules and stay attached to that cable. No climbing experience is necessary; there are four levels of difficulty ranging from easy to expert.
Torrent Falls is a spectacular horseshoe-shaped canyon with a waterfall and 120-foot cliffs that look imposing to anyone, including experienced climbers—and it’s the first Via Ferrata in the United States. Via Ferrata— Italian for “road with irons”—is a climbing route that uses a system of cables, hand and foot rungs, and bridges and ladders to aid climbers.
Once climbers are up on the rocks, they’ll encounter a 40-foot-long tightrope walk, two suspension bridges, and even a walkway behind Torrent Falls itself.
Torrent Falls opened in 2001 and is owned and operated by Mark and Kathy Meyer and their daughters, Nicole and Allie, both of whom are expert climbers. Nicole has lost track of the number of times she’s done the course, but says, “I still don’t tire of it after all this time.”
If you’re a first-time climber, you’ll have to take a training course on site before heading to the cliffs. Even children can enjoy the Via Ferrata at Torrent Falls if they’re 10 or older. It’s open seven days a week from March 1 to the end of November.
If you’re looking for a different experience, the Meyer family also offers guided climbing and rappelling adventures at Torrent Falls and in nearby Red River Gorge.
For more information, go online to www.torrentfalls.com.