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Via Ferrata?

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Via Ferrata?

Postby Aubrey » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:25 pm

Has anyone here ever done a Via Ferrata? ("Iron Way" / fixed-protection climbing routes, for those not familiar)

We're thinking of hitting some in the Italian Dolomites next summer. Via Ferratas (or is Ferrate the plural?) look like a lot of fun, and they seem like an efficient/safe way to get up some sheer mountains. No pro setting to slow you down or cumbersome gear to carry, either.

If you've ever done a Via Ferrata, especially in the Dolomites, I'd love to hear your story, thoughts, advice, suggestions, etc.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Floyd » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:32 pm

Did you see the artcile on the one in Telluride on SP? I'd be interested in hearing stories as well

http://www.summitpost.org/telluride-s-via-ferrata/750815

Have fun in the Dolemites. I'm expecting a TR when you return!
Last edited by Floyd on Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Athletes express themselves physically, this is their art. As an athlete, exhausting oneself on the field or or on the track or on the trail or on the mountain brings calm and satisfaction. Thrashing about… our expression." - Steve Gleason

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby patternmike » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:39 pm

I've done the via ferreta in Red River Gorge KY a couple time with my son when he was in boys scouts. I enjoyed it and it is a good way for non rock climbers to experience climbing. The one in Red River is more of a traverse with some up and downs.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Aubrey » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:50 pm

Floyd, I hadn't heard about that one in T-ride ... looks very cool! There's one a few hours north of us in B.C., but it's expensive as hell, mainly because you take a helicopter to the "trailhead."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcz_cMhNv5w

In researching these, I've learned that the level of difficulty varies greatly. Not all of them have steel ladders, etc. the entire way and they can be just as difficult as many tough class 5 climbs, but without having to worry about placing pro.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby TomPierce » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:17 pm

Aubrey: I've never done one, but have seen one in Switzerland years ago and also was aware of the one in Telluride (I think it's on the Illium Wall?). If you go (and my understanding is that the Dolomites are mecca for VF's) you may want to check out some specialty gear, esp the stuff Petzl puts out. Specifically, you need to always stay clipped into the wire, but also have a way to pass knots/ladders/brackets that attach the wire to the wall. Hence most VF set-ups I've seen have a Y-shaped tether system so you clip beyond the obstruction while still clipped in before it. Some set-ups also have a built in load limiter like a Petzl Nitro. I think it may be poorly understood that even though slings are very strong (eg 20Kn), they have very little elasticity and even a short but high impact fall can snap them, e.g. ascending a ladder and slipping off. There's a horrifying DMM video I posted a while back on that. Not to scare you off by any means, I'd be pretty psyched to try it, but there must be a reason they sell this specialty gear. Frankly it doesn't look all that expensive, and it'd be easy to make a functional set on your own (2 slings, 4 locking biners, a Screamer).

Anyway, have fun!
-Tom

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Aubrey » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:42 pm

TomPierce wrote:Aubrey: I've never done one, but have seen one in Switzerland years ago and also was aware of the one in Telluride (I think it's on the Illium Wall?). If you go (and my understanding is that the Dolomites are mecca for VF's) you may want to check out some specialty gear, esp the stuff Petzl puts out. Specifically, you need to always stay clipped into the wire, but also have a way to pass knots/ladders/brackets that attach the wire to the wall. Hence most VF set-ups I've seen have a Y-shaped tether system so you clip beyond the obstruction while still clipped in before it. Some set-ups also have a built in load limiter like a Petzl Nitro. I think it may be poorly understood that even though slings are very strong (eg 20Kn), they have very little elasticity and even a short but high impact fall can snap them, e.g. ascending a ladder and slipping off. There's a horrifying DMM video I posted a while back on that. Not to scare you off by any means, I'd be pretty psyched to try it, but there must be a reason they sell this specialty gear. Frankly it doesn't look all that expensive, and it'd be easy to make a functional set on your own (2 slings, 4 locking biners, a Screamer). Anyway, have fun! -Tom


Good points, Tom, I appreciate the info. If we go, we'll definitely get the appropriate gear. I think we have everything but the Y tethers. Just found this Petzl Zyper, which seems to be the best thing to get. Runs about $100.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby TomPierce » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:07 pm

Yeah, that's the ticket! I can't tell from that photo if there's a load limiter sewn in at the base of the Y, but it'd be very easy to insert one between the belay loop (bottom of photo) and first biner. I've used both Petzl Nitros and Screamers and recommend the Nitro due to its very compact size. Pretty inexpensive as well, just another safety defense.

If you go, post a TR, I'd be very interested in your experience.
-Tom

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby tmahon » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:22 am

Christy and I went to the Dolomites two years ago and climbed a few of the popular via ferrata routes in the Cortina area. I put some pics up from a few days here:

http://www.stuckintherockies.com/2009/10/dolomiti-part-i-punta-fiames/
http://www.stuckintherockies.com/2009/10/dolomiti-part-ii-tofana-di-rozes/
http://www.stuckintherockies.com/2009/11/dolomiti-part-iii-vf-tomaselli/

They were super-fun, I'd highly recommend the trip. There are a couple of really good guidebooks on the routes over there. We were there at the end of Septemeber and like Colorado, it was starting to quiet down and there was a little snow up high. I hear in mid-summer things can be really, really busy around there.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby tmahon » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:34 am

We used a Petzl system and it was great. They disperse load through friction, by running the cord through the figure-8 like piece, and they can take repeated falls whereas a Screamer should be replaced after significant loading.

Many people make their own using them as described here though because falls aren't too common and if you have a lot of the gear already, it's cheaper than buying the specialized equipment.

BD makes a good one too.

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Carl » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:08 pm

Ted - Great pics and write up.

Aubrey - A cheaper options might be a dynamic lanyard. I was hoping to spend a day on a via ferrata in France when we were climbing in the Alps this summer couldn't fit it all in. This is the Beal setup I was look at that's pretty inexpensive: http://www.bealplanet.com/portail-2006/index.php?page=longes&lang=us. Doesn't come with the oversize carabiners though (not sure how necessary they are).

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Gabriel » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:58 pm

I do a few via ferrata in Italy and Austria (known as Klettersteig in Austria and the German speaking areas in Italy)every summer. It's a nice option on days when you don't have a rope partner or just don't feel like hauling gear. The Dolomites are really fantastic! Probably the best weather in the alps. Some ferratas are technically and physically very difficult, even without needing to place pro. If you want a fun ferrata with an alpine feel, the west ridge of the Marmolada (highest peak in the Dolomites) is great. You can avoid the glacier by approaching via the Contrin hut from the town of Canazei. Another option is the Tabaretta klettersteig on the Ortler. This also leaves the option of climbing the Ortler, which is a low 5th class rock climb, with a moderate glacier with short portions of 50 degrees. If you want a more challenging route, the Hinter ridge is incredible. I climbed it last summer. The valley base is the town of Solda, stomping grounds of Reinhold Messner. He owns a restuarant, organic farm and yak herd. Solda is also home to one branch of the Messner mountain museum. Another great location is Cortina. The via Ferrata options are limitless in this area.

I'll be in the Austria/ Italy next summer in mid July and then again in late August and may be looking for a partner.

Have fun.

G

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Re: Via Ferrata?

Postby Gabriel » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:02 pm

Oh yea: I use, a BD via ferrata set, but I think Camp now makes a lighter and better one.

G

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