Knowing and being objective about one's physical conditions, abilities and previous experiences is a universal antidote to the stay away from trouble in the mountains. If on the one hand it is beautiful and fair to test oneself and gradually raise one's rod, on the other hand it is essential to avoid overestimating one's abilities. It is necessary to have information on the route you are going to take in order to avoid being in difficulty, miscalculate the timing and create dangerous situations for yourself, for our comrades out and for rescuers. This in-depth analysis provides some hints to increase self-awareness and the itinerary we are going to take.
For those who are frequent visitors to the mountain as a hiker we will say obvious things, but the characteristics of the itinerary are a fundamental aspect to start with. As a first information on the itinerary we recommend to evaluate if the path length, the difference (absolute and relative) and the duration of the itinerary they are objectively within our reach. This analysis must be done even before the technical difficulty of the via ferrata.
Let's talk about physical and psychological preparation to long walks, to climb slopes that can put us to the test and to correctly calculate the times. All our reports have a summary mirror where the length of the itinerary is indicated (as an indicative datum measured in Km), the relative height difference (it does not consider the ups and downs) and the duration for an average prepared tripist. The duration is naturally the fruit of both one's own Physical training that of ours time management (will I stop several times to take pictures?) than of any unforeseen events (via ferrata traffic? Errors in following the route).
We always recommend that you are familiar with the firstHiking and with themountain environment, before raising the bar and undertaking long trips that include via ferrata. Going through trips and aided paths you learn to know, to understand your step and preparation and preparation a to grind Km horizontally and vertically. The times indicated by the CAI signs are generally calibrated on moderately prepared hikers. If we are not able to maintain the times indicated by the CAI we will have to consider an extra margin of time and undertake trips anticipating the departure.
To this link a Guide on how to read our reports on the site and gather all the information present.
If length, height difference and duration are very much related to our physical condition, themaximum altitude that reaches the route begins to involve our effective experience in the environment. Undoubtedly, an trip of many kilometers that includes 1000 m of altitude may require some effort. But if we start from the sea level, the environment we will be facing will have certain characteristics. It is quite different to rise above certain quotas. It is far from rare that it snows in the middle of summer above 3000 m. Generally speaking, we would like to say that trips that go beyond 2500 m, even if undertaken during the summer, require special attention. We need to take into account that, with rare exceptions, theenvironment will be rather isolated. We will have to carefully evaluate the conditions weather before leaving. Without making unnecessary alarms, as with any other mountain activity, it is advisable to proceed step by step and not skip stages. We do not recommend, for example, to switch from the classic modern via ferratas at low altitude to a via ferrata at 3000 m in a very alpine environment, isolated and with long approaches and returns. At those odds, any unexpected event can be more difficult to manage. Then gradually increase our experience in a mountain environment.
The appetite comes with eating and, after the first outings, you quickly get used to exposure and the desire is to compete with difficult itineraries. Our site shows for each itinerary a degree of difficulty of the complete itinerary, including the via ferrata, following the Difficulty Scale of the CAI. Each itinerary is classified as easy, moderately difficult, difficult, very difficult or extremely difficult.
Alongside this classification of the itinerary, we have indicated 4 further levels of detail to specify with ladder from 1 to 5 specific difficulties of the route: technical difficulties, environmental difficulties, exposure and physical commitment. Be careful to evaluate your preparation in these 4 areas:
On our site it is easy to filter the via ferratas for the overall difficulty level of the trip or for one of the parameters indicated above. To this link a Guide on how to filter routes.
Some via ferrata routes have characteristics that make them special and require some special attention. In each report there is a box that shows, among the various features, if the itinerary is carried out in High Monteain (ex: reaches 3000 m). These routes inevitably they require appropriate clothing for possible sudden changes in weather and good preparation.
Some itineraries require to cross galleries, often dating back to war conflicts. If a person suffers from claustrophobia, it is advisable to consider whether it makes sense to take that trip as well as if he intends to travel along it will require having a frontal torch with him.
There are climbing routes that are included in trips where we will meet glaciers or perennial snowfields, such as many routes in the Brenta Dolomites, the Ferrata at the Gran Paradiso, the Ferrata alla Presanella and many others. In these trips it will be advisable (and sometimes absolutely necessary) to have crampons and an ice ax with you.
We have indicated the itineraries that have a character mountaineering. With this classification we mean itineraries where you need a bit of alpine flair or the ability to free climb some passages that could be of a higher degree than I +, like some High Routes or the Ferrata at the Antelao, the Maximillian Ferrata to the Teeth of Terrarossa and many others.
Some via ferratas have suspension bridges. Undoubtedly, for some hikers, they are very beautiful and adrenaline-filled. For others they are a variation on the mountain environment and would prefer to avoid them.
Evaluate well the weather conditions both objective and for the impact they could have towards us. Via ferrata routes should be excluded if they are provided for temporal because the metallic cables could attract lightning and risk serious or fatal consequences. The main problem with the weather occurs when this is variable and you have to choose whether to take risks - even minimal risks - or give up. The choice is linked to one's experience and itinerary. Attention therefore to correctly weigh our ability to manage any risks related to the weather which, it is worth remembering, changes much faster in the mountains than in the plains or the sea.
Theclothing it must be correct for our type of trip and to allow us to return in good condition even if the weather worsens. High-altitude ferratas require some reflection on jackets, batteries and other clothing that protect us from rain or sudden drops in temperature. Never go to high altitude with only clothing for a permanently clear weather. For long and isolated trips it is advisable to have in the backpack a first aid kit, a thermal blanket, a whistle, a GPS or a compass and other simple devices that can become extremely useful in case of unforeseen circumstances. At this link we have prepared a guide dedicated to what to put in your backpack.
We have prepared many guides on the material mandatory and optional to walk the via ferratas safely. Each way requires an analysis of its own: if we encounter glaciers it is necessary to have the winter mountaineering equipment as well as the frontal torch, which you should always have in your backpack, becomes an essential accessory if we enter tunnels.
The last element that should not be forgotten is the common sense and the ability to give up if our or environmental conditions are not good and the risk of facing serious dangers seems concrete to us.