Via Ferrata Practical Guide

by: Anna Szlavi

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What’s awesome about via ferrata is that you can explore crazy routes and amazing views, on your own, in relative safety. You don’t need to be a badass climber to get to the top of the Dolomites or manage on vertical walls over Lago di Garda. How cool is that! But don’t be super-confident and head to La Marmolada with a pair of trainers and a chocolate bar.

Last week we had quite a memorable ferrata trip in the Alps. We got into a storm just when we were on the crux (read more of it here and check the pix here). This experience urged us to collect and hand over some useful pieces of advice, so you go safe.

 

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Equipment:

– Always bring a proper via ferrata gear with you. Earlier we showed you a video to demonstrate what happens if an 80-kg person falls into an inappropriate lanyard. Watch it here. Scary, huh?

– Helmet. No joke. You might not look sexy but even a small pebble falling on your head can cause serious injury. It was real useful for us last time, because the ice was not crashing our head, just banging on our helmet.

– It’s wise to take extra carabiners and slings with you so you can take a rest more easily or help yourself through more difficult parts. Also, if you’re on a longer route — we went on 8-hour vias in the Dolomites — you might wanna take off your backpack sometimes. A sling and a biner come in handy, so you can relax your hands too.

– Even if it’s a pain in the ass (or in the back), do take ropes and belay devices with you. You never know if it’s gonna be that one time when you desperately need it. Last time we needed it.

 

ferrata 4 move

Clothing:

– You think the sun is shining like crazy, so no need for extra layers? You can be very wrong. In high mountains, weather conditions can change in just 5 minutes. Again, it happened to us last week. We had to hide in a cave, full of goat shit, to protect ourselves from the rain of ice and the cold, because some of the group was overconfident and had no raincoat or sweater.

Softshell stuff are the best because they are light and dry quickly. Put it in your bag!

– We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the boots (or climbing shoes). Eventually, you need to put most of your weight on your feet, not on your arms, otherwise you exhaust yourself too soon.

 

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Routes:

– It is crucial to have some idea about the route you are about to take. Be aware of the grades and your capacity.

– You cannot turn back on a D-level route.

– In bad weather conditions, you might wanna consider to try easier paths or simply wait till the walls dry up.

 

storm7

 

Fuel:

– You need to take enough water (at least 1.5l). It might sound banal but we encountered cases when climbers thought 5dl would be enough for a whole-day climb on a summer day.

– Take some fruits with you. Not only are they healthy, they will also hydrate you. Apple is cool.

– Pack sandwiches, chocolate bars, energy bars — whatever you can eat quickly and easily. Grilled chicken (no kidding, it happened) is just not the best choice for now: it’s hard to eat and hard to digest. You need energy to complete your climb.

And so on. But hey, these are just a few tips.

 

Do you know the rules of safe via ferrata? Can you rescue a friend if they get in trouble?

If yes, happy via ferrata! You can stop reading here. But, if you’re not so sure or you want to tackle serious routes without a mountain guide or an experienced climber, then we have something for ya.

Want to get the Five Commandments of Via Ferrata Safety? Click on the picture below to get a free copy.

mock up_via ferrata