Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:00

A Wave of Via Ferrata Set Recalls: Current Results of Tests

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Test results of researches to failure of via ferrata sets

Different types of webbing in the production of the elastic branches of different manufacturers are probably the reason

Mammut, Salewa, Kong and Camp do not recall their sets at this time

08/30/2012 and following days, Berlin: After researches of the Swiss company Mammut AG, according to the request of climbland, the first concrete results regarding the failure of elastic via ferrata set branches of the new generation are discovered.


In a via ferrata set of the company Edelrid a disruption of the elastic carabiner lanyards during a fall led to a deadly downfall in a via ferrata in Tirol Austria. This incidence brought all manufacturers of climbing gear to an intensive search to discover the reason.

It was a certain fact that the elastic lanyards of this new generation failed. Why it failed and if the heavy use of the rental set was the only reason, could not be proved until now. Results of the tests: Failure of the substance and resistance of the material without a cognizable scheme.  

The product development department of the Mammut AG in Switzerland stated to climbland on request  of the 29.08.2012 that on basis of the existing test results a recall of their via ferrata sets is not planed, because the elastic lanyards have a different construction. The Differences of the elastic carabiner lanyards would be in the different way of workmanship of the webbing.

Simulated long period tests and applied load tests of different via ferrata sets with elastic carabiner lanyards at Mammut AG showed disparities in the performance of the material, caused by different textures. The fatality is that the disparity is not apparent. The elastic lanyard consist of Polyamide webbing that is directly connected with an elastic rubber cord. This kind of elastic webbing material is used by several manufacturers for via ferrata sets since 2010. Polyamide is the fiber that is also used for the production of climbing harnesses and lanyards.

In contrary to the lanyards used by the companies Edelrid, Singing Rock, AustriAlpin and Edelweiss, the webbing material of Mammut should not be affected by this issue of danger, because of a different material characteristic due to the different texture of the webbing. Also Salewa states that their via ferrata sets should be safe.


At that time (10/18/2012) Mammut also recalls their via ferrata sets. Tests request that beyond the lifetime (!) of the via ferrata sets the elastic lanyards possibly do not meet the safety standards. Although the lanyards are stronger than the lanyards from the other manufacturers who recalled their via ferrata sets.

After the first investigations of the Innsbruck administration and the public prosecution, in consequence of the accident, the only information that the administration could give on our request during the last weeks is that the cause has been a material failure and that the manufacturer began with tests and research. The published result until now was that elastic webbing material could fail due to heavy use and wear.  The administrational investigation is not finished yet so the test of the manufacturers should be seen independent from the state of these investigations.

For weeks now the climbing gear manufacturers research after the reasons for the failure of the stretch lanyards, like the Edelrid ones, that led to the accident. Requests to the different manufacturers until now led to diverse answers: “We conclude that in single cases of the tests the carabiner lanyards do not match anymore the applying norms.” “We could not discover any deviation from the norms.” In both cases these results led to recalls of the affected sets.

The thought of solution by climbland that an increased wear occurs by the movement of always the same bending points, could not be approved in general whether by AustriAlpin nor by Mammut in the last days on basis of their applied tests. These findings stand contrary to the on 30.08.2012 published declaration of the Alpine Clubs, even if our and the declaration of the Alpine Clubs is not without logic. Also the simple thought of the thickness of the material seems not to be crucial until now. It seems too easy. The explanation regarding the different kinds of texture seems in fact to be the right point for further research after the Why. The conclusion: Some break in case of heavy use and wear and the others not, is not enough to explain failure and not-failure properly.

The not distinguishable ways of manufacturing of the elastic lanyards and the workmanship depending on the manufacturer make this issue unclear. The manufacturers of the via ferrata sets maintain a low profile regarding requests about the source of the elastic webbing material.

Affected in the moment are the via ferrata sets of the following manufacturers: Edelrid, AustriAlpin, Singing Rock (Lanex), Edelweiss, Climbing Technology, Wild Country, Stubai and Ocún – a recall has been officially been done. Also Mammut.

Not affected are according to their own declarations the via ferrata sets with this special elastic lanyards model from: Salewa, Skylotec and Simond.

Singing Rock, Ocún and Rock Empire tested their via ferrata sets and identify the same problem that the elastic lanyards reached the critical limit after cycling tests. Singing Rock and in this time Ocún recalls their via ferrata sets. Rock Empire do not do this. Rock Empire constidude the non-recall with the intended lifetime of their via ferrata sets.

Also not affected: Companies like Black Diamond, Petzl, Camp, Cassin, Kong, Lacd (Laco), Elliot and Anlo do also have via ferrata sets with elastic lanyards in stock, but with a very different principle of construction of these elastic lanyards. According to statements of these manufacturers they should therewith not be affected by this issue. But caution: the recall for the older Petzl via ferrata set Scorpio (no elastic lanyards) is still current!

When using sets of not here listed manufacturers also caution should be applied. In case of doubt send a request directly to the manufacturer. The retailer will usually have less information, because the chain of information between manufacturer, distributer, retailing and dealer is often not functioning properly.

The manufacturers and other members met to Bern (Swizerland) on 09/06/2012 for discussion that problem. The UIAA informed at 09/13/2012 that user of vie ferrrata sets immediate check their vie ferrata sets generaly and that they must request for information.

A table of affected and nonaffected via ferrata sets and the manufacturers find you here.

The actual state of information is shifting daily. Please check your equipment for recalls in the next time even if it is not affected now. This applies especially for via ferrata sets that are regarding the information of the manufacturers untill now still free to use.

ATTENTION: New recall with date 2013/02/25 with an other problem of vie ferrata sets from Salewa, Edelrid and Mammut.

Or check this site; we will stick to this issue like to other safety themes in climbing and alpine sports and also safety relevant themes for ropes courses and adventure parks.

All recalls can be found in the recall section in German and English.


Read 3118 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:08
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