The term “via ferrata” is translated from the Italian and means “iron track”. In fact, this is one of the types of mountaineering. It got its name, precisely because of safety ropes, metal braces fixed in the rock, cable crossings and bridges, making the movement along seemingly unassailable rocks – accessible even for those who have never tried themselves in the role as a climber.
Along all the such area, there is a safety rope or chain, fixed by steel anchors at a certain distance from each other. Additional options are leg restraints in the form of steel staples, corrugated plates or conventional pins. If the area allows, it can be equipped in the form of metal stairs. The most complex (also so-called “sports type”) Via Ferrata can include suspension bridges, as well as hinged crossings, which in fact are parallelly stretched strong ropes.
What equipment is needed for Via Ferrata?
Except of required lack of dizziness and fear of the height, confidence “in the legs”, a well-developed sense of balance, weather appropriate clothing and knowledge of “tying” the knots are absolutely necessary equipment:
• helmet for protection the head not only from stones (often caused by a person, who is going above), but also from the touch of the rock in the narrow places.
• trekking boots with sufficient strength for movement in the mountains, also outside the safety areas.
• gloves for avoiding the formation of bubbles and wounds from safety ropes.
• climbing harness (preferably universal) – a combination of a universal pergola with an adjustable belt and hinges for the legs and chest.
• the most important element is the so-called EAS (Energy Absorbing System) attached to the climbing harness.
Where are the Via ferrata routes?
Europe has become a place of origin of Via Ferrata routes at the end of the 19th century. The construction of Via Ferrata was begun in Austria in 1843. The most active installation started in the 90th of the last century and they are spread mostly in the Alps, where, according to some sources, there are from 800 to 1000 “iron tracks” of different levels of complexity.
Via Ferrata is “at its peak” in Europe now. Around 50 new ones build every year, since 2008 year. Italy, Germany and Austria were the founders of these areas. The Italian Dolomites, for example, are known as the real Eldorado for “ferratists”. There is an abundance of complex, lengthy, often “ladder” Via Ferrata. France and Switzerland has been becoming to build such tracks recently, so in these two countries they are the most advanced technically.
Climbers or as they are also called “ferratists” can use Via Ferrata either free or for a small fee in order to improve their skills. The level of complexity and length of Via Ferrate are different.
So, Via Ferrata routes are created not only for professional alpinists and rock climbers, but also for ordinary tourists to more quickly and safely overcome dangerous areas of rocks.