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Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2015 Sep;29(3):151-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1399234. Epub 2015 Apr 28.

[Equipment, Risk Awareness and Safety-Relevant Behaviour of Via Ferrata Climbers].

[Article in German]

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Institut für Sportwissenschaft, Universität Innsbruck, Österreich.
Österreichisches Kuratorium für Alpine Sicherheit, Innsbruck, Österreich.



Climbing via ferrata routes is becoming more and more popular. The growing number of via ferrata climbers is associated with an increasing number of accidents. In addition to adequate equipment and its correct handling, knowledge of specific risks and safety-related behaviour play an important role for safety on via ferrata routes. The goal of this study was to collect data on equipment, via ferrata-specific risk knowledge, safety-related behaviour, and general risk-taking behaviour of via ferrata climbers.


In this survey, data of 332 climbers of different via ferrata routes in Tyrol (Austria) were collected using a standardised data entry form including socio-demographic data, the use of via ferrata-specific equipment and first aid equipment. Knowledge of via ferrata-specific risks was assayed by a questionnaire including 4 questions. Additionally, safety-related behaviour and general risk-taking behaviour of the via ferrata climbers were evaluated.


92 % of the interviewed persons were wearing a helmet and helmet use was significantly lower in females (86 %) compared to males (96 %). In total, 10 % of the via ferrata climbers used inadequate belaying equipment or no equipment at all. The 4 questions related to via ferrata-specific risks were correctly answered by an average of 46 % of the climbers. A partner check was carried out by 76 % before starting the tour. 96 % of the climbers stated they ask the climber ahead of them for the possibility to overtake and wait for a suitable and safe spot. 64 % reported that they would not pass without self-belay. General risk-taking behaviour was scored at 4.26 ± 1.75 with significant differences between female and male via ferrata climbers (3.79 ± 1.37 vs. 4.53 ± 1.88).


Although most of the via ferrata climbers use adequate equipment, helmet use could be optimised in females. Via ferrata climbers should be better informed of the risks of climbing via ferrata routes and safety-related behaviour. Preventive measures including information panels at the entrances of the via ferrata routes and broad information campaigns could contribute to reduce the number of accidents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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