Daniel Arnold
 

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Special safety advice for via ferrata sets

The most dangerous thing in the mountains is you yourself. Anyone who ventures into the mountains needs to be perfectly aware of what awaits them. 80-90% of alpine accidents are brought about by the climbers themselves. Despite this, it is still important to be informed about the so-called "objective, outside, natural" dangers in order to act appropriately.

Personal requirements

Via ferrata demands a freedom from giddiness. Beginners should start with the easiest climbs and slowly increase the level of difficulty. If panic attacks do arrive then, with a modern via ferrata kit, it is perfectly possible to hold on and breath deeply. However, you should only ever do this directly at the intermediate fixing point – never fall voluntarily!

Safety

Via ferrata installations in the high mountains are exposed to weather, rock falls and avalanches. At the end of the winter, in particular, fixing points can work loose or steel ropes may tear. Old, poorly maintained via ferrata (e.g. in the Dolomites) do not always meet modern safety standards. You should therefore always pay close attention to guide cables and fixing points and never pull thoughtlessly if the fixing itself is not visible.

Weather conditions

Rain and snow make rocks dangerously slippery and packed fields of long-lying snow on an ascent or descent can become deadly ice slides. One particular danger is storms if you are holding on to a guide cable that acts as a lightning conductor. If your route planning has gone wrong and escape is not possible then you should try to get away from the via ferrata and take shelter below an insulating layer (backpack) with no metal near you. Since heavy rain can make stones come loose, the location should be protected against rock fall if possible.

Rock fall

Height differences at high altitudes, lots of people, zig-zagging paths: via ferrata routes are rock falls waiting to happen. Always keep a watch-out above you and make sure you never kick stones loose yourself. During traverses, one group member goes at a time: the others watch and warn. In steep sections, stay together to avoid falling rocks from gathering momentum. In an emergency: cling to the rock face and hold your backpack over head.

 
 
 
 
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