How is a via ferrata set tested?
When we test our via ferrata sets, the fall test is the main focus of interest. But before this, all the individual components (brake, rope, cable, sling, carabiners) must have passed the applicable standards tests. During the fall test, we check that the components interact correctly, that they are harmonized correctly and that they can absorb the standardized via ferrata fall at an acceptable level of performance.
The standardized via ferrata fall is extremely hard: an iron weight of 80 kg falls freely from a height of 5 meters into the via ferrata set. The braking path is recorded. See also the force/distance curve below: braking systems.
The resulting impact force, i.e. the peak force acting on the body and fixing points must not exceed 6 kN (which corresponds to 600 kg) and a maximum of 1.20 meters of brake rope may be pulled through the brake.
All Mammut via ferrata sets available on the market meet these stringent requirements with a fall factor of 5.5 with ease.
The latest safety research on falls on via ferrata tours
The fact that a via ferrata set has passed the standards test does not mean that a fall on a via ferrata tour is free from risks. The latest safety research has shown that the 80 kg iron weight specified in the standard does not completely reflect reality. An iron weight is rigid and does not deform. A human body is soft in comparison and can change shape. Therefore, in the case of a human body, the energy generated by a fall is first converted to deformation energy. This means a high risk of injury. The brakes of the via ferrata set are only triggered when the human body can no longer convert the energy from the fall to deformation energy. For lighter weight individuals, it is very probable that the remaining energy (after the absorption of the deformation energy) will still be very low and the braking effect of the via ferrata brake will therefore also be low.
Falls in via ferrata sets should therefore be avoided at all costs. When planning a tour, bear in mind: when choosing via ferrata routes, make sure that the level of difficulty is well within your capabilities. Avoid pushing yourself to the limit on any via ferrata tour in case of a fall. For inexperienced adults, Mammut recommends additional belaying by a partner with a climbing rope. Children must also always be secured with a rope from above.