Rather recent and not yet very widespread in our peninsula, we can come across some via ferratas that allow to cover a stretch aided with a cable car to connect a Pulley ("Zip line" in English, "Tyrolienne" in French). These sections are optional and there is generally an alternative way to avoid using the pulley. They are more popular in neighboring countries, particularly in France, where many via ferratas are paid and include this option. These traits are adrenaline-pumping and the main difficulty is launching into the void to be transported by gravity from one extreme to the other.
Among the routes that offer a section with Carrucola in Italy we report:
For the complete list of via ferrata with pulley, click here.
In front of us we will see a long metal cable that will cross a section - generally rather long and slightly sloping - of emptiness below us. To cross the void we will have to slide along the cable aided by gravity and our weight. The major producers of climbing materials market pulleys composed of a pair of metal bearings which roll on the metal cable to reduce friction and make us follow the cable, taking us to the opposite side. The pulleys are rather small devices, they have a side opening with which we will "wrap" the metal cable and position the bearings over the cable.
Once the pulley is closed around the cable we will have to connect to it. Although you see videos of people connecting the via ferrata set directly to the pulley online, we do not recommend it. The Ferrata set has lanyards that stretch and this could make us dangle very low. In addition, the set is connected to the heat sink which, if accidentally started, could create a dangerous situation with us potentially too much under the pulley cable.
To connect us to the pulley we will use a sling or a cord and a snap-hook: the sling is connected to the ring of our harness with a choke knot (also called "Bocca di Lupo") and to the pulley by means of a locking carabiner with screw. The Ferrata Set is recommended to connect it to the cable that we are going to cover behind the pulley so that the sliding of the pulley on the cable is dragged and not hindered. It is inevitable that the via ferrata set will run at high speed on the cable of the cableway. The carabiners of the via ferrata set are made of aluminum alloys and the abrasion that could suffer along the cableway could ruin them or damage them with the result of having to change the complete set. We recommend connecting the snap-hooks of the via ferrata set to a steel ferrule to preserve the integrity of the Ferrata Set. Steel resists better than abrasion-free aluminum alloys. A theoretically better solution is to connect each carabiner to a separate ring nut. It is useless to remember that it is essential to always close the screw of the locking carabiner.
We have written specific articles on how to choose a complete via ferrata kit: helmet, harness and via ferrata set. For specific equipment for via ferrata with zip line, you need a pulley that slides on ropes up to 13 mm. To date, a model of pulley very widely used and that we recommend on via ferrata is the Petzl Tandem Speed. An alternative to the Petzl classic is the Pulley Duetto of Climbing Technology
Webbing or Lanyard
For the webbing, we recommend a Dyneema webbing or a 60 cm long dynamic cord. Dyneema tapes are precooked and ready for use. The dynamic cords can be found both pre-sewn and knotted. If it has to be knotted you can use the English Double Knot or the Double Knot of the Guides (here an explanatory video). Here are some examples of tapes that can do for us:
Better Dyneema or Dynamic Lanyard? For this specific use both are fine as we will not apply a dynamic force on the lanyard. If you practice other mountain sports, you could evaluate which rope you use predominantly and focus your choice on that one. Dynamic lines have higher costs than those in Dyneema.
Carabiners with connecting ring
As indicated above, we suggest 2 or 3 connection rings: one that connects the sling to the pulley and at least 1 (better 2) rings that connect the snap-hooks of the via ferrata set.
Steel carabiners have the advantage of being less damaged during rubbing. Their main counterpart is their weight. A solution that is not too expensive is the Steel Clasp Carabiner by CT Climbing Technology.
If instead it is customary to practice other mountain sports and you have many snap-hooks or if they use frequently you can choose, among the many on the market, an aluminum alloy carabiner. Based on their use there are carabiners of different shapes on the market. For this use we suggest a classic oval, avoiding the asymmetrical ones, to stay perpendicular to the pulley: