Wednesday, 27 July 2011 00:00

Number of Accidents on Via Ferrata Increase Rapidly

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Numbers of Accidents on Via Ferrata Increase Rapidly
Danger of Via Ferrata is Underrated

07/27/11: Salzburg, Berlin:

according with the mountain rescue Salzburg the number of accidents on via ferrata increased in 2011 significant. The mountain rescues have registered in the first 3 months of the season 2011 the same amount of accidents as in whole 2010. Diverse reasons are recognized by the rescue units.


First and foremost the people doing via ferrata underrate the potential dangers and overrate their abilities. Not the bad equipped tourists are affected, but especially the well-equipped.

Another problem would be the increasing number of via ferrata and the difficulty of them.  New via ferrata would often be planned for the special thrill of the tourists, so that the constructors knowingly abdicate from installing resting places. The trend that every county wants to attract attention by having a very difficult via ferrata is seen with worries by the Salzburg mountain rescue units.

In fact the boom of the construction of new via ferrata still exists in the whole Alps area and the counties have discovered it as touristic attraction. The danger of self-overrating on via ferrata is very high, because non-professionals see them as safe and unproblematic and sometimes not even as climbing projects. But the opposite is the fact. In spite of the existents of installed steel cables, cramps and ladders that are used for belaying as well as for the ascending and for the climbing, via ferrata are no hiking trails. Sportive and (primarily new) via ferrata can have climbing passages in overhanging terrains or in rock formations that can only be bore with training and education in rock climbing skills. Additional to that via ferrata are mainly located in the area of the Alps, so people using via ferrata mandatory need knowledge of the whole complex of the “Alpine Dangers”. A via ferrata is the best lightning rod.

Via ferrata should only be entered with a special via ferrata harness set including an energy absorber, which reduces the energy of a downfall impacting body and equipment. Despite the danger of falling on a steel brad or slipping down or crashing in the steel cable is very high. For people with a weight under 50kg the use of the via ferrata sets is problematic because it can’t be granted that the fall energy absorber releases. All of the via ferrata sets are not suitable for a body weight under 35kg, because the downfall energy is too low to release the energy absorber and the high risk of fatal injuries is given.

In consequence via ferrata accidents are often more dangerous than accidents during rock and sport climbing.

Before a via ferrata tour one should categorical get information (Internet, sections of the alpine clubs, tourist information, mountain guides) to get a clue of subjective and objective dangers. For the aimed preparation of the tour a fundamental education in belaying techniques should be included, so that the holiday fun is not taking a long lasting bad ending.


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