INTRODUCTION TO VIA FERRATA

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

On the third day, we have started a serious via ferrata route, which was quite hard compared to the previous 2 days with some vertical ascents, etc. The first 30 meters of that route was a killer on the body and on the mind. After that, you gain more confidence and go to the summit with less pain, and looking down from there to see your progress was fantastic.

What did you think of your group leader?

Hubert Niederwolfsgruber and Paolo Sbisa were outstanding in their leadership. Despite the size of the group and the wide difference in the physical capacities of the individuals, they have managed to lead the group safely during the whole event.  They were excellent in keeping the group in harmony and did utmost for everyone to enjoy this tough event. When help was needed, they manage to do it in a way so that one would feel more confident of him or herself. A big thanks to Hubert and Paolo...

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Few practicalities to share for the future trips ;Technically the trip is do-able, irrespective of your physical capacity. We had a wide range of participants from serious runners and military staff to decent hill walkers, who all managed. Some with required more help from the leaders than the others, but all managed to go all the way up and down. The first 2 days of the via ferrata trip is planned for getting acquainted with the technique and the equipment, be patient, the remaining days are tough and a lot of fun. If you are not familiar with scrambling and/or rock climbing, please do not forget the fact that “It is normal to be afraid of the heights, just don’t panic”. Panic makes things worse and you loose control of your coordination. Do not hesitate to ask for help from the leaders. They are very experienced and they know how to handle such cases. Most of the times they will tell you to step on the little crack on your left and the problem will be solved. The cost of renting the equipment, the via ferrata lanyard, helmet and the harness is eur 25, where as the cost of purchase of the same is around eur 130. If you are keen on continuing via ferrata and/or scrambling, it is worth considering to buy own equipment before the trip. Consider using an approach shoe rather than a pair of mountain boots (B2). The approach shoe performs perfectly on the rocks and much lighter, about 500 gr per pair compared to a sturdy boot , weighing about 1500 gr per pair. I have used FiveTen Camp 4, which was very comfortable both on the rocks even when wet and on the scree while going downhill. The arrival to the Hotel on the very first night is very late, and there are no lunch packs available for the next day.  Therefore, suggest to arrive with some biscuits, crackers, etc that can be your lunch pack for the first day. The sauna in the hotel is not heated, unless you tell them to do so prior your departure every day. You can plan to go and see Venice on the free day. There was a bus departing Dobbiaco at 06:30 am (3 hrs by bus to Venice) and returning back at 07:00 pm. The cost was eur 64, which included the bus ticket, a canal tour with a guide.  Otherwise, short walks to neighbouring towns (Innichen, 6 km, try the FunBob), crossing the Austrian border by bike to Lienz (approx 60 km, 2-3 hrs, mainly downhill and take the train on the way back) is also recommended. The check-out time is at 11:00 am on the last day, and the bus departs from Dobbiaco to Venice at 6:00 pm, therefore one can also use the last day for sightseeing, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

A short note to Exodus here ; the group consisted of 15 participants, which was quite large for this event. There are long queues at the via ferrata routes and it was very hard to keep the whole group in one slot, as the speed of each member were so much different.  There were times when the time difference in between the first and the last party was 30 minutes. An optimal group size would be max 8 for such a trip. Otherwise, the large group would have been divided into 2-3 smaller ones and may even carry out different routes.