Tips for via ferrata Taking the “iron way” to the top


Via ferrata are becoming more and more popular. And why shouldn’t they? They are the perfect way to safely scale sheer walls of rock. They provide mountain enthu­siasts with the chance to go places that are usually reserved for extreme climbers or moun­taineers. But you will have to keep a few things in mind to minimise the risks asso­ciated with via ferrata. Poor prepar­ations or second-rate equipment can quickly lead to very serious problems. We have compiled a few tips that will help you to learn the ropes of climbing on via ferrata.

Image photo with the CADIN GTX MID, Bilderauswahl HochzweiMedia August 2020

Difficulty Pay attention to the difficulty of your route

When you select a via ferrata, you should check the various degrees of difficulty and select a tour that is appro­priate for your indi­vidual ability. You should never over­es­timate yourself. In cases of doubt, you should simply take the easier route.

Via ferrata are usually rated by two different scales.

  1. Hüsler scale
    The ratings on this scale range from K1 (easy) bis K6 (more than extremely difficult).

  2. Schall scale
    The ratings on this scale range from A (easy) to F (more than extremely difficult). Combin­ations of two letters (e.g. A/B) show that this route includes sections with both levels of diffi­culties.

Deutschland Alpen Zugspitze

Commu­nication Commu­nicate clearly when you overtake someone and always maintain a safe distance

You should keep sufficient distance between you and the person ahead of you when you are climbing a via ferrata. Simply keep the following rule in mind: Only one person should move between two fixed points at a time. This will prevent collisions if the climber in front of you happens to fall.

You must clearly and under­standably commu­nicate if you are climbing a via ferrata with several other indi­viduals. If you want to overtake a climber in front of you, you should let the person clearly know what your intentions are. This will prevent unne­cessary chaos.


“If you run into a lot of people at a via ferrata, it would be more sensible to simply come back another day. It is the safe, reas­onable decision to make.”

Arthur | LOWA Manager Service Department

Image photo with the CADIN GTX MID, Bilderauswahl HochzweiMedia August 2020

Equipment The things you should take along

You will need a certain amount of equipment to climb via ferrata. This equipment should include your via ferrata set, climbing harness and helmet. Special via ferrata gloves will come in handy as well. And there is one more secret, too: Your shoes. Not every hiking boot is auto­mat­ically suited for a via ferrata. For this reason, you must make sure that you have the right footwear before you set off on your tour. The two key requirements you should keep in mind are: The boot should provide the stability you need, and it should have a stiff sole that can create good grip.

  • Climbing set

  • Climbing harness

  • Via ferrata helmet

  • Via ferrata gloves

  • The right footwear

  • Addi­tional tape slings

  • Addi­tional cara­biners

  • First aid kit

  • Mobile phone


“Use a hydration kit with a tube instead of a normal water bottle. A rock wall can become very hot on warm days, and hydration becomes crit­ically important. With the help of the hydration kit, you can take a quick sip more frequently and will not have to remove your rucksack in the process.”

Arthur | LOWA Manager Service Department

Klettersteigszene am Gerardo Sega, Gardasee, Trentino, Italien.

Teamwork Never climb a via ferrata by yourself

This tip applies to both beginners and exper­ienced climbers. But it is a really important piece of advice if you are a novice climber. If you have never climbed a via ferrata before, you should never try it for the first time by yourself. Climb it only if you have an exper­ienced partner or a mountain guide at your side.

Why? Quite simple. Via ferrata are very steep and wind their way across rugged terrain. You will often need help here and safety plays a key role. This is where teamwork comes into play. Should one partner slip or fall, the other partner can provide help or call for assistance. Both partners can check each other’s equipment. They can determine whether a climbing harness fits correctly or whether a helmet is closed, among other things. Such care can prevent problems from occurring later on.


“If you want to take pictures while you are climbing a via ferrata, you should tie your mobile phone or camera with a cord and a small carabiner to the shoulder strap of your rucksack or your climbing harness. The cord should be long enough to enable you to take pictures, but it should not get in your way while you climb. You should also store your mobile phone or camera in a pocket on your climbing harness or rucksack. You will then be able to take a great picture of yourself or your climbing partner, and nothing can fall out. You won’t lose your awesome pictures, and you won’t leave behind any elec­tronic waste in the mountains.”

Arthur | LOWA Manager Service Department

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On the go Take your time when you hook and unhook the rings

This tip addresses the most frequent mistake made when people climb via ferrata. Always apply the following principle: Care before speed! Please don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Make sure that you do not unhook both cara­biners at the same time and keep one hand on the cable at all times. Hook yourself to the next cable as soon as you can. The important point to remember here is: rehook the front carabiner first and then the second one.


“In addition to your via ferrata set, you should use a tape sling that is equipped with a carabiner (about 90cm) or a special lanyard whose length is possibly adjustable. You can use it to secure yourself to the steel cable or a rung in order to give your arms a shake or take a picture.”

Arthur | LOWA Manager Service Department