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Via Ferrata Practical Guide

June 19th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Via Ferrata

What’s awesome about via ferrata is that you can explore crazy routes and amazing views, on your own, in relative safety. You don’t need to be a badass climber to get to the top of the Dolomites or manage on vertical walls over Lago di Garda. How cool is that! But don’t be super-confident and head to La Marmolada with a pair of trainers and a chocolate bar.

Last week we had quite a memorable ferrata trip in the Alps. We got into a storm just when we were on the crux (read more of it here and check the pix here). This experience urged us to collect and hand over some useful pieces of advice, so you go safe.

storm4

Equipment:

– Always bring a proper via ferrata gear with you. Earlier we showed you a video to demonstrate what happens if an 80-kg person falls into an inappropriate lanyard. Watch it here. Scary, huh?

– Helmet. No joke. You might not look sexy but even a small pebble falling on your head can cause serious injury. It was real useful for us last time, because the ice was not crashing our head, just banging on our helmet.

– It’s wise to take extra carabiners and slings with you so you can take a rest more easily or help yourself through more difficult parts. Also, if you’re on a longer route — we went on 8-hour vias in the Dolomites — you might wanna take off your backpack sometimes. A sling and a biner come in handy, so you can relax your hands too.

– Even if it’s a pain in the ass (or in the back), do take ropes and belay devices with you. You never know if it’s gonna be that one time when you desperately need it. Last time we needed it.

 

ferrata 4 move

Clothing:

– You think the sun is shining like crazy, so no need for extra layers? You can be very wrong. In high mountains, weather conditions can change in just 5 minutes. Again, it happened to us last week. We had to hide in a cave, full of goat shit, to protect ourselves from the rain of ice and the cold, because some of the group was overconfident and had no raincoat or sweater.

Softshell stuff are the best because they are light and dry quickly. Put it in your bag!

– We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the boots (or climbing shoes). Eventually, you need to put most of your weight on your feet, not on your arms, otherwise you exhaust yourself too soon.

DSCN8003

Routes:

– It is crucial to have some idea about the route you are about to take. Be aware of the grades and your capacity.

– You cannot turn back on a D-level route.

– In bad weather conditions, you might wanna consider to try easier paths or simply wait till the walls dry up.

 

storm7

Fuel:

– You need to take enough water (at least 1.5l). It might sound banal but we encountered cases when climbers thought 5dl would be enough for a whole-day climb on a summer day.

– Take some fruits with you. Not only are they healthy, they will also hydrate you. Apple is cool.

– Pack sandwiches, chocolate bars, energy bars — whatever you can eat quickly and easily. Grilled chicken (no kidding, it happened) is just not the best choice for now: it’s hard to eat and hard to digest. You need energy to complete your climb.

And so on. But hey, these are just a few tips.

Do you know the rules of safe via ferrata?

Can you rescue a friend if they get in trouble?

If yes, happy via ferrata! You can stop reading here. But, if you’re not so sure or you want to tackle serious routes without a mountain guide or an experienced climber, then we have something for ya.

Want to get the Five Commandments of Via Ferrata Safety?

 

 

It’s All in Your Head

When I went climbing for the first time, my forearms and my fingers hurt so much that I had to stop after just an hour. I was disappointed and asked my trainer: “Hey coach, how can I train for climbing?” He simply said, “With climbing.” Today, after a number of climbs and via ferratas, I know it was not completely true, or at least not how I understood it. When it comes to whether you succeed or fail on a route, may it be rock-climbing or via ferrata, it is so not about the muscles. It’s much more about the mind.

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A rookie rocky’s tale about Montserrat

June 15th, 2015 | 2 Comments | Posted in Mountain Guides, Rock Climbing

You remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Let me tell you my rock-climbing version of the tale. It’s about adventure, fear, progress and — here’s the rocky twist — it’s set on a soaring mountain, not in a deep forest.

climb

Once upon a time Little Red Climbing Helmet – let’s call her Anna – went to see a far far land – let’s call it Catalonia. She was a vagabond who wanted to explore the world and bring some gems back home to her little cat who was bored in their 2-room-apartment. Poor one, never climbed a tree, let alone a mountain, so Anna, an outdoor junkie, wanted to bring home the world to him. She heard myriads of legends about Montserrat, this awesome rock formation, so she decided to find the treasures of ‘Saw Mountain’. Now let’s hear her story:

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Easy Mountain = Deadly Mountain?

Why do you think it is that most mountains that are considered “easy” prove to be among the most dangerous? Like with avalanches, your mind that can easily trick you into underestimating your circumstances and overvaluing your control, which often ends very badly. Against catastrophes like the one in Nepal, you cannot do much, but in many cases tragedies could be prevented. What goes wrong usually and what can you do?

Although the highest peak of Europe, you consider Mount Elbrus as a relatively accessible and easy 5000-er, right? Yeah, that’s the general opinion. As such, it is a very popular climbing destination not only for Seven Summiters but also for amatuer climbers who want to taste the Caucasus after having done the Alps. More »

Video and Details of Everest Base Camp Avalanche

3,300 people are now confirmed to have died in Nepal after the horrifying earthquake hit on Saturday, April 25th. Here’s the first video showing the immense power of the avalanche that hit Everest BC and the panic of the people in Everest’s Base Camp:

We have a mountain guide on Everest now Zsolt Török – he’s trapped with his team (not clients, but a Romanian expedition) around Camp 1, because the Khumbu-icefall is impassable due to avalanche debris. Here is what else we know…
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Avalanche Danger After Them Rainy Days

March 25th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Mountaineering - Alps, Ski Touring

Not many people head out for a skitrip when it rains. However, even days after rain, the snow can still be soaked as a sponge. Here is a case from a couple years back from Tyrol. Enjoy and learn!

Wet snow avalanche More »

Avalanches & Mind Traps: the Better You Are, the Higher the Danger

February 27th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Mountain Guides, Ski Touring

Here is a widely cited piece of research on mind traps. Its most shocking conclusion is probably this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 15.21.46

Here’s what it means…
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How the World’s Leading Avalanche Professionals Secure Slopes

February 4th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Mountaineering - Alps, Ski Touring

One of the best things that has emerged from these avalanche mastery videos is YOUR involvement. If you’ve read the comments, you’ve probably come across some people posting very good articles/videos that articulate or go deeper on all the stuff we’ve been talking about. Here are some really good ones, so you don’t have to read through all the comments…

One is from Julien with a freaky video. It’s about Freeride Worldtour pro skier Julien Lopez, who got caught in a slide during a recent comp in Austria. The video takes you behind the scenes on how mountain rescue sets up an event like this – and despite 20 professionals testing and overseeing the slope, Julien still got swept away.


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Avaluator – is it any good for predicting avalanches?

About 10 years ago, the Avaluator was the thing – you might have come across one, or perhaps even used one. It’s a simple card that helps you evaluate avalanche risk and make the often painful go/no-go decision based on some obvious clues. Here’s what one of these cards look like:

avaluator 2.0 avalanche risk assessment method

Red-yellow-green. But what happens in “grey” areas?

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Video: What happens to an 80 kg person who falls on a via ferrata?

May 30th, 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted in Via Ferrata

Video Lesson: Testing Via Ferrata Mechanisms 

The last post on the via ferrata accident stirred some emotion from quite a few of you. We owe you the learnings of the story and will show you a video of what happens when someone takes a fall on a via ferrata. Here’s the cold hard truth on what happens if they use static lanyards without an energy absorbing mechanism… and what’s the difference if they use a properly set up via ferrata kit?

via ferrata gear test

Via ferrata – one of the best ways to explore mountains IF you have the right equipment and skill

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