In her last post, Emily Thompson talked about Via Ferrata and here she gives her top tips for beginner to help you make the most of your via ferrata experience.
8 Top Tips for a good Via Ferrata Experience
1. Start on an easy route
Starting nice and easy means that you can judge your own ability and the grading and get used to using the gear. Something around the 2B grade was a good starting point for me – an experienced hillwalker with the ML qualification, but little climbing experience.
2. Stay Clipped in
There’s some points on the route where you might consider it easy and safe enough to just walk along not clipped on, but consider your surroundings and what would happen if you tripped.
3. Always use both clips
Via Ferrata gear is different to standard climbing gear. Lanyards have 2 karabiners for a reason, so make sure you use both of them to properly protect yourself.
4. Keep an eye on your karabiners
It’s very easy to get carried away with the route and suddenly come to an abrupt halt, as your karabiners need moving past a pin. This can be awkward if you’ve just climbed some steps or are in an exposed spot.
5. Keep your distance
Watch your distance from the person in front. If someone falls they potentially will fall as far as the last pin and while their lanyard will deploy several meters of rope to cushion their fall, they could easily take you out in the process. A good rule is to never be on the same section of cable as another person (ie the bit between two pins).
6. Watch the weather
Being aware of the weather is important in the mountains – and I don’t just mean be prepared for if it rains. Check the weather and avoid routes if there’s a risk of thunderstorms.
7. It’s ok to climb the cable!
Some people think using the cable is cheating. However, in my opinion if you think you might fall, it’s better to be holding something than risk falling.
8. Enjoy it!
Via Ferrata routes I’ve done are some of the best rock climbing I’ve experienced. I’d never manage to get such exposure just doing trad climbing, because of my grade and experience, so this was exhilarating and enjoyable in a way I hadn’t experienced before.