Danger on a klettersteig (via ferrata)

One of the most significant dangers you can encounter on a klettersteig is the danger of storms and their lightning. The steel rope of a klettersteig is the ideal lightning rod. The best defence against this danger is prevention, and for this reason you should never set out on a klettersteig in uncertain weather as a matter of principle. Before heading out, always determine the current weather forecast. If it happens that you are on a klettersteig and you see storm clouds headed your way, quickly look for safe shelter at a sufficient distance from the steel cable. In the shelter you can wait out the end of the storm, then head back out onto the route only after a certain time delay when you can be certain that the storm has gone far enough away from your location. Another common danger you may encounter on a klettersteig is damage to the protection of the route. As was mentioned earlier in the section of text on history, a number of them were built in the 19th century. Not merely in such a time but in a much shorter time anything made of iron will be subject to corrosion. When climbing along a protected route you must constantly monitor the condition the protected route is in. Both the iron parts and their anchoring in the rock can be damaged, to the extent that an anchoring rod can be pulled out of the cliff. One can typically come to conclusions about the condition of a protected route already after the first hundred metres of the route. If you see that the steel rope is excessively rusted, often with frayed wires, or frequently repaired with tape, it is clear that you have found yourself in a poorly maintained klettersteig. You will need to increase your level of caution and keep your eyes open, and not blindly put our trust in the protection.

Faulty anchoring on a klettersteig.

Faulty anchoring on a klettersteig.

Your attention must be paid particularly to places covered from view. If the steel cable leads behind the corner of the cliff and you can’t see its anchoring, it is good before embarking on this segment to pull sharply on the cable and thereby establish that it is actually anchored around the corner. But even then it is necessary to proceed cautiously and not risk a fall, or even sitting into your cowstail.

Similarly dangerous are the spots where the steel cable has something wrapped around it or is otherwise covered, and you don’t know what is under that layer. All tapes made of synthetic material, which are sometimes used to wrap steel cable, are particularly dangerous. Moisture is retained under tape and these spots then succumb significantly more to corruption and there is risk of damage to the steel cable here.

In a similar way we can be completely uncertain of whether or not the protection is holding, if its construction is confusing and unclear. In places mounted with steel cable there tend sometimes to be very unclear clottings of bent strands of rope. In such cases it is necessary to slow down and properly examine the anchoring of the rope to determine what is fastened where and to what.

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Title Part 4Mountaineering Methodology – Part 4 – The Mountains

ISBN 978-80-87715-10-9

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

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Title Part 4 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 4 – The Mountains

ISBN 978-80-87715-15-4

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.