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Via Ferrata

Tightrope act included

In close touch with the Ötztal mountains: secured on a wire rope, Ötztal’s 8 via ferratas take you (steeply) uphill. Stepladders cut into in the rock show you the way to the top, quite a few key sections require strength, skill and courage. You will cross rope bridges, climb along waterfalls and conquer steel ladders. Beginner-friendly and well secured trails are also suitable for children, introducing them to climbing sports safely and in a playful way – for example along the Stuibenfall via ferrata, Tirol's biggest waterfall. Real experts and connoisseurs enjoy spectacular opportunities on Burgsteinwand rock wall in Längenfeld or in the rear Ötztal.

A good head for heights and appropriate equipment absolutely required!

A large network of via ferratas in varying degrees of difficulty can be found throughout Ötztal. Difficulty levels range from A (easy) to E (extreme). What they all have in common: a good head for heights is a great advantage, a complete via ferrata climbing set (helmet, chest and sit harness, and carabiner rope brake) is absolutely necessary. Professional rental stations can be found HERE.


3 Via ferrata tips in Ötztal

Scenic Ötztal offers the right route for via ferrata fans of all skill levels. We would like to briefly introduce three of them to represent the huge choice of climbing opportunities:

For children and beginners: Piburg practice via ferrata
The via ferrata on the western bank of fairytale lake Piburger See and is ideal for beginners and children who want to get in contact with rocks for the first time. The practice via ferrata is a B/C route in terms of difficulty, but most parts are easier (A or B). Covering a length of almost 200 meters and a difference in altitude of 28 meters, the short via ferrata can be climbed in about 15 minutes. There is also a small rope bridge in the central part. All details about the Piburg via ferrata can be found HERE.

Those who can master this practice via ferrata without any problems should venture towards the next beginner-friendly route, such as the one at the Stuiben Falls, Tirol's biggest waterfall. However, the ascent on this truly spectacular via ferrata requires prior experience on via ferratas as well as surefootedness, a good head for heights and excellent physical fitness. Children must be at least 9 years old and 1.40 meters tall.

Other beginner and family-friendly via ferratas in Ötztal are the following: Haiming/Geierwand via ferrata, which also has a midi and mini variant; Zirbenwald via ferrata in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl (suitable for children from 10 years); Moosalm via ferrata in Sölden with an alternative and easy exit route.

You are not sure whether you and your "rope team" can master Ötztal’s splendid via ferrata routes on your own? Then we strongly recommend that you take full advantage of the services offered by professional mountain or climbing guides in case of doubt – they will lead you safely to your favorite destination.

For advanced climbers: Reinhard Schiestl Via Ferrata
Awe inspiring: The Reinhard-Schiestl via ferrata on the almost vertical Burgsteinwand rock wall near Längenfeld is a difficult via ferrata tour for real aficionados. Beautifully exposed, equipped with many stepladders and two rest areas, this climbing adventure offers superb views of Ötztal. All important details about the via ferrata on Burgsteinwand can be found HERE.

For true experts conquering new heights: Schwärzenkamm Via Ferrata
A wonderful panoramic via ferrata at the heart of Obergurgl’s glacier world. Although the route has no unconquerable difficulties it is fairly challenging and requires climbing experience due to its high Alpine and north-facing location. Two emergency exits also make it possible to shorten the route. Special tip: You can easily reach Langtalereckütte by (E)bike, from where you continue on foot to the via ferrata’s access point. More details about the Schwärzenkamm via ferrata can be found HERE.

Climbing Längenfeld Reinhard Schiestl Ötztal
Climbing Reinhard Schiestl Längenfeld Landscape

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Frequently asked questions about via ferratas in Ötztal

Complete via ferrata equipment includes a climbing harness, a via ferrata set (comprising two carabiners, a shock absorbing lanyard and a connection to the harness) and a rockfall helmet. You also need sturdy mountain boots and climbing gloves. A first aid kit and, depending on the route, enough to eat and drink as well as clothing appropriate for the weather. Special tip: pack as lightly as possible, you have to carry the weight up vertically! In addition to the material equipment, courage, skill and a good head for heights are absolutely necessary. You can find an even more detailed description of the right via ferrata equipment HERE.

A via ferrata on natural rock is continuously secured with steel cables and iron pins from access point to exit. Therefore, the climbing path is exactly defined and features artificial handholds and step aids (ladders, brackets, etc.). Complete via ferrata equipment is absolutely required for climbing via ferratas - without any exception. Via ferratas are divided into categories ranging from A (not very difficult) to E (extremely difficult) according to their difficulty level. The 8 via ferratas in Ötztal are sure to offer a suitable challenge to all ages!

Via ferrata gloves fulfill two important tasks: they protect the hands and ensure a better grip on the steel cable. Even cheap working gloves can do a good job. However, special climbing gloves are adapted to the requirements of climbing and protect your hands from severe injuries and burns when abseiling. You can choose between half-finger climbing gloves, which give your fingers more feeling, and full-finger climbing gloves, which also protect the sensitive fingertips. Climbing gloves with a free thumb and index finger are another alternative. In terms of material, there are leather and synthetic gloves. The former are a bit more expensive and stiffer at the beginning, but much more durable.

Important when buying: pay attention to the right fit, the material and the processing quality. You can get expert advice in the Ötztal sports shops and slip into the various models before buying.

If you rarely walk an easy via ferrata, normal mountain boots will do a good job. If you are drawn to the rocks more often, it is best to purchase sturdy, comfortable via ferrata boots. They are made of high-quality, water-repellent and breathable materials - from the solid grip sole to the upper material. Depending on whether you often have long ascents, are aiming for very sporty or even high Alpine via ferratas, you will be happy with different boots. As a rough guide: the more direct contact with the rock, the softer the boot should be. The more you climb in high Alpine terrain, the stiffer (and crampon-compatible) your shoes should be. In general, it is also true that a high shaft that extends over the ankle provides better protection against twisting. Additionally, the boots must be firm and still fit comfortably. A well-adjustable lacing that extends far to the front is quite advantageous. In terms of weight: less is more! The sports shops in Ötztal offer expert advice in addition to a large selection of climbing equipment.

Compared to the high number of climbers, via ferratas have a low risk of life-threatening or fatal injuries if the safety equipment is used correctly. The protection offered by a via ferrata set should not neglect the fact that you can fall a few meters deep, depending on where you are on the wire rope safety device. Especially if you hit the rock it can be very painful.

The most common safety hazards on via ferratas include outdated safety devices, brittle rock, a lack of safety distance between climbers, lack of surefootedness (risk of falling rocks!) as well as overconfidence, lack of concentration, excessive demands or peer pressure. Correct use of the climbing harness and via ferrata set as well as careful tour planning, tailored to the weather report and the climbing skills of all participants, are essential.

All climbing routes in Ötztal are regularly checked and maintained in order to exclude safety deficiencies to the best of our knowledge and belief. Should you still notice a loose stepladder, handhold or similar dangers along the route, please report it directly to Ötztal Tourismus!

Slings (60 or 90 centimeters in length) with a carabiner are part of the basic climbing equipment. In addition to the via ferrata set, they are threaded through the tie-in loop of the climbing harness and serve to take a short rest on the via ferrata and to additionally secure the climber in difficult spots (for example in traverse sections or when taking photos). Before you sit down in the harness during a break, you attach this sling to the wire rope using a rope carabiner in addition to the via ferrata set. Caution: during vertical climbing, the sling must not be hooked into the rope, as in the event of a fall you would get the full impact force in an undamped way!

For a successful via ferrata tour you need the following: climbing harness, via ferrata set, climbing helmet, locking sling (consisting of sling & locking carabiner), climbing backpack and sturdy shoes. Gloves are also recommended – either half-finger or full-finger models, depending on your preferences. In the backpack you should put a first aid kit, sun protection, detailed tour description, water and energy in the form of muesli bars etc. Dress according to the season and the weather, light rainwear and wind protection should always be at hand. Depending on whether you are going on a short, sporty via ferrata in Ötztal or a high Alpine via ferrata with a longer ascent route, such as Schwärzenkamm via ferrata near Gurgl, your equipment will be lighter or more voluminous.