Via ferrata tips for beginners
Would you like to try your first via ferrata this summer? We know what you need for it: the right outdoor clothing by Martini Sportswear – and our tips and tricks for via ferrata newbies!
What is a via ferrata?
Via ferrata climbing is somewhere between hiking and climbing. A via ferrata is a climbing route along rock, which is equipped with steel cables, fixed anchors and iron footholds. Many of them also feature ladders, rope bridges and other artificial structures.
Most via ferratas require maximum concentration, skill and safety arrangements.
What should I keep in mind when planning a via ferrata tour?
When planning a via ferrata tour, it’s important to know about the length, difficulty level and special features of your chosen route. The difficulty of a via ferrata is usually rated using the Schall scale. Easy routes are marked with an A, “moderately difficult” ones with a B. “Grade C” via ferratas are only suitable for more experienced climbers. As you can see, via ferrata climbing requires a good ability to self-assess your skills.
Important: Always have a good look at the weather forecast before going on a via ferrata climb!
What do I need to climb a via ferrata?
First of all, you should know the two most important rules of via ferrata climbing:
1. Avoid falls!
Falls during climbing sections can have serious consequences and lead to major injuries, as you will usually free-fall to the next anchor. So take your time and be careful!
2. Always clip into the cable!
Your via ferrata set can only hold your fall (albeit quite roughly), if you use it correctly. That’s why you should always use it with great care.
If you would like to learn the basics of via ferrata climbing, it’s a good idea to join a via ferrata course with a certified mountain guide. Basic courses usually last two to three days and are offered on site in most hiking regions or by the Austrian Alpine Association.
What kind of equipment do I need for a via ferrata?
Apart from your know-how and experience, your equipment contributes the most to a safe via ferrata experience. It consists of:
· a helmet
A helmet protects your head from rockfall and injuries caused by falls. A climbing helmet should be comfortable, lightweight and well-ventilated.
· a climbing harness
For via ferrata climbing, you usually use a waist harness (sit harness) with adjustable leg loops – just ask a climbing expert at a specialist shop near you!
· a via ferrata set
Experts recommend sets with a tear-webbing energy absorber (also called an impact shock absorber) because they efficiently absorb forces in the event of a fall and comply with current safety standards.
· via ferrata shoes
Depending on the via ferrata’s terrain, you can wear hiking boots, trekking boots or approach shoes.
· comfortable outdoor clothing
For instance, lightweight hiking trousers and a shirt with UV protection in combination with a warm or wind- and waterproof jacket. Our recommendation: Hiking clothes by Martini Sportswear – check out our products for women and men!
· functional accessories
such as headbands or neck tubes – discover our accessories for women and men!
· first-aid kit in case of emergency
· optionally, via ferrata gloves
· optionally, a lightweight backpack with snacks, your smartphone, UV protection, sunglasses, a rain jacket, first-aid kit and more
7 tips and tricks for via ferrata newbies
1. Take things slowly! Rather go for a via ferrata that’s too easy than taking an unnecessary risk!
2. Practice using your via ferrata set before the actual climb to ensure safe handling during your tour!
3. Have a look at the weather forecast before your tour, and visit the toilet before starting your climb!
4. Only enter the via ferrata once you have done a partner check with your fellow climbers! Are your climbing harness, via ferrata set and helmet all worn and fastened correctly?
5. At anchor points, first clip in the first carabiner, then the second one to ensure that you are properly secured at all times!
6. Ideally, only one person should progress on each cable section.
7. Do you need a break? Don’t sit back in your climbing harness if you get tired! Instead, use a rest sling or short fixation. Simply ask a climbing expert how to use these tools!
For more detailed information on equipment, tour planning and via ferrata safety, consult the Austrian Alpine Association. Do you feel ready to take on your first via ferrata but don’t know which one? Then discover the best via ferratas in Austria – including tips for beginners!