Would you like to try a via ferrata? Read the guide's advice!

13/09/2019



Are you an expert hiker, with kilometers of trail in your legs? Or are you passionate about the mountains with a bent for the vertical dimension? Then it is very likely that sooner or later you decide to experience the thrill of facing a via ferrata.



Via ferratas are essentially equipped routes on rock, designed to facilitate the ascent of a stretch of steep rock wall. These are artificial routes, that is entirely man-made through the use of ladders, pegs, punches and ropes that allow you to climb safely.
They often develop in spectacular places and allow you to enjoy otherwise inaccessible panoramas or to experience unusual environments: this is one of the reasons why they attract more and more mountain lovers.

Among the most famous via ferratas in Italy there are certainly:
  • Via ferrata del Paterno and Strada degli Alpini (Sesto Dolomites)
  • Via ferrata at Punta Anna and at the Tofana di Mezzo (Tofane, Cortina d'Ampezzo)Bocchette Centrali in the Brenta Dolomites (Madonna di Campiglio)
 

How to prepare for a via ferrata

 
We asked the mountain guides of InMont, a professional group and ambassador of Garmont, to give us some useful advice for those who have decided to try a via ferrata. These are practical tips not only for beginners, but also effective as a reminder for those who may have already taken the first steps on a rock wall.
 
Massimo tells us: “To face a via ferrata, whatever it is, you need to be physically prepared and properly equipped. The physical preparation depends very much on the via ferrata we want to tackle, the length of the approach and return routes, and the intrinsic difficulty of the via ferrata itself "


 
Before tackling a via ferrata it is therefore essential to collect all the relevant information. Do not go unprepared: search online, contact the local tourism company or the local mountain guides. They will be able to give you all the useful information to assess the degree of difficulty of the via ferrata. And if the ferrata you had singled out were too difficult? Of course, in this case it is better to choose an easier route but keep your original idea in mind: it will be your next goal, once you have the necessary preparation.
 

Technical equipment and via ferrata shoes, the essentials

 
Massimo continues: “For the technical equipment it seems easy: via ferrata kit, helmet, harness, gloves and appropriate footwear. The first three, essential for safety, must be certified: the offer on the market is wide and meets the required standards. For gloves it is not a big problem, while the shoes must be "adequate" ... But what do I mean?



First of all, the via ferrata shoe is essential for safety and fun. It represents the most important bond between us and the rock and / or metal equipment along the route. You will climb a lot more with your feet than with your arms! Therefore we strongly advise against running shoes, particularly running shoes, which are too light ”.
 
It seems trivial, but using inadequate shoes can seriously endanger our safety and cause problems for our feet. In one of our articles, also Daniele Guagliardo - another alpine guide testimonial of Garmont - suggested avoiding running shoes. Obviously, this is an incorrect habit but very frequent and mountain guides are unanimous: sneakers should be left at home.
 

How to choose the ideal via ferrata shoes


The shoe is therefore a fundamental element of our via ferrata equipment. But what features should it have? We hear what Massimo has to say.
 
"The characteristics of a good via ferrata shoe should be the following:
  • Sole with excellent grip;
  • Semi-rigid structure, suitable for supporting the foot on the steps, but comfortable for walking along the approach and descent paths;
  • Compact and lightweight structure;
  • Good wrapping and sensitivity on the support;
  • Gore-tex insulation to promote waterproofness and breathability.
 
Is a high or low shoe better? It depends on the ferratas you prefer to tackle: in the mountains with long approaches, screes, rough and slippery paths it’s advisable to wear a high shoe, while via ferratas in the valley, even very difficult ones, with easy and short approach routes suggest more agile shoes, low on the ankle. And therefore a mid-cut could cover both needs.
 
The lacing must be precise and adjustable, capable of fixing even the lower part of the foot.
 
The compound of the sole, if soft, will have more grip and precision, but will wear out quickly. Better a harder sole for longer duration and better comfort along the uneven paths".
 


Garmont's Dragontail MNT meets all these needs and is therefore the ideal choice for those who decide to try a via ferrata. And if someone preferred a higher ankle cut, there is Vetta GTX, which has the same characteristics as Dragontail but precisely with greater ankle protection.
 
Massimo has one last piece of advice to give us: "It is important to choose the right number and use a pair of light socks. Shoes that are too big will produce poor precision on the metal elements and the bad feeling of the foot that moves inside the shoe. Conversely, shoes that are too small will obviously be painful and annoying ”. As we advised you some time ago, take the time to go to the store, keep the shoe in the foot and see if the fit is right for you.
 
Now we are ready to face a via ferrata. However, remember that, if you are not completely sure, it is always better to rely - at least the first time - on a qualified mountain guide, who will explain how to use the via ferrata equipment and accompany you safely to the wall.
 
For example, you can rely on the InMont guides, who recently equipped a new via ferrata, called “La farina del Diavolo” (“The Devil's flour") in Villa Santina (UD). Can there be anything better than facing a via ferrata with those who created it?
 

 
​​​​​​​Massimo Candolini has frequented the mountains since he was a child and has climbed numerous alpine peaks, with a predilection for winter, especially for skiing. Alpine Guide since 2003, he immediately dedicated himself to classical accompaniment, teaching and dissemination, thus trying to pass on his passion for mountaineering to others. He is a co-founder of the InMont group, which Garmont has long supported.