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Overview & Introduction
What is a Via Ferrata?

A Via Ferrata (in english : "Iron Way"), is a fixed-protection climbing path, mostly found in the Dolomites mountain range in northeastern Italy. Over the past five years, I've made several trips to the area, and I've condensed the information from those trips into this Via Ferrata page.

As mentioned above, a Via Ferrata is a fixed-protection climbing path. The protection consists mostly of heavy-gauge steel wire, periodically fixed to rock with thick metal bars with eyelets on the end. These bars seem very similar to the 'rebar' steel that is used to reinforce concrete in buildings. These metal bars are drilled and cemented into the rock.

In some cases, other types of aids are present, such as rungs of metal (aka 'stempels'), and ladders and bridges.

Some vie ferrate are easy enough that they may be climbed without any technical gear at all. However, many of the ferrate go through areas with huge amounts of vertical exposure and some are fairly difficult technically. Therefore, depending on the level of exposure and technical difficulty (and your own level of comfort with unprotected climbing), you will want to be physically attached to the ferrata for safety.
On a via ferrata
For adequate safety, then, a few bits of basic gear are usually needed when climbing on a via ferrata: a harness, a helmet, gloves, and some sort of dynamic attachment from the harness to the ferrata itself. Typically this is some sort of y-shaped lanyard with a dynamic belay device. See the following link on the manufacturer Petzl's web page regarding via ferrata laynard: [Petzl via ferrata equipment page]. On the end of each tip of the y-shaped lanyard, an auto-locking carabiner is used.
Ferrata closeup
When climbing on the ferrata, both carabiners are locked onto and slid along the wire rope of the ferrata. As rock-attachment points are reached, the carabiners are individually unclipped and reclipped beyond the attachment point, thereby ensuring that one is clipped into the ferrata at all times. Additionally, In areas where the wire rope runs vertically, it is also important to space yourself out from your fellow climbers such that no one climber is on the same segment of wire between two rock-attachment points.

As long as these few simple safety rules are followed, climbing on a via ferrata is about as simple and secure as protected climbing gets! They are a great way to experience the fantastic scenery of the dolomites from a perspective that few usually see.

All of the routes described on this web page are accessible from a variety of points. You can click here to go directly to a full listing of all of the ferrate I've done. Or, you can use the vertical sidebar on the left, which also contains links to all of the ferrate I've done, along with links to an interactive satellite locator map, links to related web sites, both internal to myself and external, references to the guidebooks I've used, and galleries of some of my better ferrata images.

Happy exploring!

[ via ferrata home page | overview & intro | full route list | satellite locator map | rating systems | best images ]

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