PENDLETON COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – On this week’s Destination Adventure, I went to Nelson Rocks (NROCKS) in Pendleton County to give you a bird’s eye view of one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia and I’m using an iron road to do it.

“We have our harnesses and we’ll put that on first,” states Brett Mello, guide at Nelson Rocks. There are two loops down in the center and the waist loop around that.”

“We’re going to experience real rock climbing,” adds Mello. “You get to see and feel the experience of being hundreds of feet off the ground.”

“Now, we are in a high danger zone so we have to keep ourselves clipped in somehow,” Mello exclaims.

“I’ve been climbing since 1986, rock climbing rather since 1986 and this is a totally new and unique experience for me,” exclaims Abney. “So, I’m just excited to be traversing along rock faces, kind of a different element of adventure. Once again, this is right here in West Virginia.”

“The main attachment points are the lobster claws right here,” said Mello. “They have safeties in the back just like that so you cant open it.”

Abney asks, “You have a suspension bridge here?”

“Yes, you step off 200 feet to the corridor below,” answered Mello.

“Try to walk in the center of the bridge,” adds Mello. “It’s a suspension bridge so it kinda wants to move around.”

“I’ve always heard the view is better from the top,” stated Abney. “And I’m looking forward to getting up there and actually verifying that.”

“Welcome to the headwall,” Mello stated. “This is the hardest part of the headwall.”

“Are ready to try it?”

“Lets do it, onward and upward!”

”Via Ferratas originated in Italy,”Mello stated. “It was developed by the military so they could move their armies through the Dolomites.”

“That was fantastic! ” Abney exclaimed. “No matter how many rock faces I’ve climbed, there is still an exhilaration.”

“It’s a birds-eye view here on top of our highest point on the Via Ferrata,” Abney added. “We’re overlooking the North Fork Valley and as we pan around over to this side we have the Germany Valley. And the highest point in West Virginia, Spruce Knob, is right there in front of us.

“It really is a hidden jewel in West Virginia,” Mello stated. “We want everyone to see what’s hidden in these mountains up here.”

While these Via Ferrata were once used as a mode of transportation for soldiers, they now provide a vehicle for everyone to have an epic climbing experience. From high atop the North Fork Valley, I’m Clay Abney, remember to get outside and make adventure part of your next destination.

Want to know more about how they ensure your safety while participating?

NROCKS requires all guides to obtain CPR and First Aid certifications, as well as successfully completing testing after several days of training for each tour.  Guides have radio contact with the Welcome Center and there is an Operations Specialist on-site at all times while tours are taking place.  Climbers are able to remain attached to the safety cable at all times, and the Via Ferrata route is subject to an annual third-party inspection.

For more information, visit

Did you know:

  • Italian for ‘by way of iron’ or ‘iron road’ the Via Ferrata is a permanently installed system of steel rungs and cables.
  • The age limit is 13 years old.
  • The origins of Via Ferrata date back to the 19th century but associated more widely with World War I.
  • There are less than a dozen Via Ferrata in the United States.