Truly, madly, steeply: a via ferrata tour of the Dolomites

Northern Italy’s iron paths give hikers the chance to feel like mountaineers but without rope, anchors or knots. Our writer straps in for the high-altitude thrill of his life

I am standing on an enormous limestone plateau almost 3km up, peering over the edge of a cliff that seems to plunge all the way to the centre of the Earth. Behind me in the distance are stratified towers of rock, their tips gleaming through wisps of cloud in the morning sun. And in front of me is this breathtaking drop, the gateway to what our guide Alessio calls “the danger zone”.

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