Climbing a Cathedral and Ringing the Bell on the Klettersteig Pfeilspitzwand

A little over half way up the Klettersteig Pfeilspitzwand there is a brass bell hanging from the rock. If you want to ring the bell, then you need to take a detour that traverses the face of the buttress above a sheer drop.  There’s a slightly tricky step to negotiate, before you stand on a very small ledge, hang off the cable with one hand and clatter the clanger in the bell with the other.  It’s a bit surreal and a bit silly, but fun. Ringing that bell feels like you’re declaring to anyone who can hear that you’ve managed to climb this far. Continue reading “Climbing a Cathedral and Ringing the Bell on the Klettersteig Pfeilspitzwand”

Small and Perfectly Formed – the Klettersteig Knorren

The Knorren is a broken mass of yellow, cream, grey and ochre rock that rises out of the side of its parent mountain, the Penken. One side is made up of steep stone faces, pinnacles and buttresses above a field of boulders and bushes. The other side, facing the valley below, is covered in trees and vegetation. A via ferrata (klettersteig in German) ascends the rock faces of the Knorren by alternating between sometimes strenuous vertical climbing and easier traverses. Continue reading Small and Perfectly Formed – the Klettersteig Knorren

A Climb in the Woods on the Klettersteig Huterlaner

I did my first Austrian via ferrata last week, introducing my brother-in-law Nick and his son Ben to climbing with cables. The Klettersteig Huterlaner was a fun and varied climb with some good views down the Zillertal and of the town of Mayrhofen. As it starts only two minutes walk uphill from the base of the valley and is in the woods, it had a different feel to the mountainous via ferrate I’ve done elsewhere. Continue reading A Climb in the Woods on the Klettersteig Huterlaner

Some top via ferrata

The Red Bull website has an article by Alison Mann with a list of some of the top via ferrata around the world.  It was flattering to be interviewed by Alison for the article.  Since Alison and I talked, I’ve been curious to see which via ferrata people suggested as some of the best and the article highlights some amazing routes.  Reading about these via ferrata and seeing … Continue reading Some top via ferrata

Via Ferrata Accidents – what you don’t know might hurt you

If someone asked me what causes accidents on via ferrate, I would only be able to make a few informed guesses. This is because there is surprisingly little readily accessible information on why accidents happen on vie ferrate. This concerns me because understanding why the cause of accidents is essential to preventing them. I’d like there to start a conversation about the causes and prevalence of these accidents as a way of improving understanding and helping people safely enjoy vie ferrate. Continue reading Via Ferrata Accidents – what you don’t know might hurt you

Via Ferrata on the Edge

Murren is a pretty village of wooden chalets and hotels perching on slopes covered in woods and meadows.  In the summer, men farm the meadows for hay accompanied by the clanking of cowbells.  Tourists sit in cafes or wander streets kept quiet by a ban on all but electric vehicles.  The Eiger, Monch and outlying peaks of the Jungfrau across the valley provide a dramatic horizon of dark rock and bright snow.  Standing in its centre it’s easy to not realise that this quiet Swiss village comes to an abrupt halt at sheer limestone cliffs that drop hundreds of metres to the bottom of the narrow Lauterbrunnen Valley. Continue reading Via Ferrata on the Edge

A Little Bit of the Eiger – the Rotstock Via Ferrata

“All the Grindelwald via ferrata are closed.”  The woman at the tourist information office said these words in a firm, brisk tone that indicated that she didn’t realise that I would find them disappointing.  I knew that there was a risk that the long, cold winter might mean that some mountain routes would still be impassable with snow that the hot July sun had not yet melted.  I had started to accept that this might be quite a high risk when I had seen snow clinging to slopes and hiding in gullies as I looked out of the train window on the way in to Grindelwald. Continue reading A Little Bit of the Eiger – the Rotstock Via Ferrata

Wire and War – the top five vie ferrate for WW1 history

Vie ferrate have much of their origins in war.  As the Italians and Austrians fought a war of attrition in the passes, summits and ridges of the Dolomites, they built vie ferrate to help the movement of troops and supplies.  Now these routes are a major leisure activity, with climbers clipping to metal cables fixed to mountainsides to protect them as they climb ladders and scramble over rock.  Via ferrata are an incredibly fun way to explore the mountains and in the Dolomites they also provide one of the best ways of learning about an aspect of World War 1 of which many people are unaware. Continue reading Wire and War – the top five vie ferrate for WW1 history

Further Recalled

Today a group of manufacturers have issued new recalls on via ferrata lanyards.  This is the second wave of recalls of this type of equipment in the last six months and relates to a different type of lanyards than in the first wave.  The statements issued by the UIAA (the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) and the manufacturers are clear that the issues with these particular lanyards are potentially fatal. Continue reading Further Recalled

Vie Ferrate on Gran Canaria

I never would have guessed that an island in the Atlantic, off the coast of Africa, has incredible vie ferrate – the cabled climbing routes more normally associated with the Dolomites and the Alps.  But Gran Canaria has several vie ferrate that give interesting, hard climbing on volcanic rock and which take you through wild country with stunning views of mountains and sea.  Two of the vie ferrate on this Spanish island have even been listed in the top ten in that country and I fully understand why. Continue reading Vie Ferrate on Gran Canaria