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Crag & Route Beta

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Via Ferrata in Chamonix
2:21:43 PM
Heading to Chamonix in a couple of weeks and have some questions. Plan on doing some Via Ferrata and know little about it. What gear do you need, what would it be like in late march weather-wise, do I need crampons? Rope? What are the best routes to do for someone who climbs a lot but never in snow/ice?
Alternatively, what's the best options for a tight ass blue mountains climber who's never done much snow/ice stuff before but is keen as to do something rad while I'm there?
Best camping spots in Chamonix on the cheap?
Any info would be greatly appreciated, even general hints and tips on chamonix in general. This has become quite broad now.

2:30:48 PM

An example of the fall arrestor Y thing discussed:
2:32:51 PM
Haven't done Via Ferrata in Chamonix or in winter but have done lots in the Italian dolomites.
Ideal kit for summer Ferrata is a harness, shock absorbing lanyard (e.g and some sturdy boots with a stiff sole.
Having said that I've seen plenty of people do it with sneakers and a couple of slings.
2:54:15 PM
Someone got a link to the dmm factor 1 tests on slings?

A slip, no matter how unlikely, could be brutal on a sling.
2:57:40 PM
and won't break you if you fall.

A couple 'biners and two cowtails would work fine.

2:59:17 PM
It's not complex, it's just there's bugger all of it in the system so it has to be far more dynamic or it'll be uncomfortable (at least). 3m fall onto 1m of rope is factor 3... How far apart are those pins?

3:13:39 PM
How goods a fall arrester once its popped? Is it still dynamic post-popping?

[edit] as in, you still gotta get off the climb right?

[edit] Can you onsite via ferrata? Is it a pink point?

3:19:36 PM
All climbing is on-site.

On-sight on the other hand...

3:34:06 PM
On 17/02/2011 ajfclark wrote:
>All climbing is on-site.
>On-sight on the other hand...

Bugger, I better go back and correct my climbing log book. I knew I wasnt that good.

3:37:47 PM
I was explaining to someone a while back about how with Via Ferrata you can have falls which are >2.

I think I have seen somewhere that the anchor/arrest points can be 4 or 5m apart.

4:02:06 PM
I lived in France for a couple of years and did a few via ferratas with my wife. They're not bad as far as they go. Nothing like half as much fun as "real" climbing, but you can do them by yourself.

I don't think that there are any actual VFs readily accessable from the village though - you'd need a car. Could be wrong. However there is a good via-ferrata style trip that goes down to the mer de glace and up onto a balcony on the other side. It's normally used as access up the valley but can be done as trip in itself. You'd need crampons at least and in late march it could be dangerous with solo glacier travel. see photos:

You shouldn't need either crampons or rope for standard VF. Whatever you do don't just use a cow's tail with dynamic rope as the falls can be well over FF2.

re camping: Camping Mer de Glace is full of climbers and a great place to meet up with random folks. BUT most of the camping grounds in France are only open for about 4-6 months a year - over high summer. Highly unlikely that you'll find any official camp ground open in March, particularly in Chamonix - though check out their websites to make sure.
4:04:22 PM
In a couple of weeks, it will still the chamonix winter. Pretty much all the rock stuff will be not possible, except some manky slabby sport stuff in the valley bottom. Most of the huts close down. Now, if you were into serious mixed climbs or winter ascents of peaks, you might get some stuff done, but the access could be long and without huts, involve carting lots of stuff. I've done a lot of climbing in Cham, but I couldn't put my finger on a single via ferrata. It's just not really a Cham thing. Unless you called the access to the Mer de Glace a via ferrata. I just call it ladders. People just solo them.

The rad thing to do in Chamonix right at this moment is ski. It has bloody amazing skiing. Touring or downhill. Leave the climbing kit for a summer visit and hit the slopes. Try down south if you really want to climb something. Further south the better.

Just to give you an idea how non climbing it is at the moment:,89,en.html

4:06:00 PM
I've got a really nice glossy book on Via Ferrata around the Alps. Nothing close to Chamonix in it but there are a few towards Annecy.
4:29:26 PM
On 17/02/2011 Gavo wrote:
>I think I have seen somewhere that the anchor/arrest points can be 4 or
>5m apart.

Yep they are for many ferratas

4:46:52 PM
Yes, fall factor is defined as the length of fall/length of rope in the system. No idea about the impact force, that's far more complicated. There's a discussion of it here:

5:11:05 PM
In my own physics numpty kind of way I though through it in my head this way: a 1m rope is a bit like a slightly soggy piece of dirt, not bad for a 3m fall but fatal for 500m.
5:36:01 PM
Not sure there is much to do in Cham in March if you'r not skiing or doing proper Alpine climbing....even camping out would be brave. Via Feratta is non existent in Cham so not sure what you would do there. I have just come back from doing some climbing and ski touring there and conditions have been good but has involved quite a bit of specialist kit eg avalanche tranceiver etc.

The main VF destination in the Alps is the Dolomites....even in May/June some of the cables are under snow rendering some of the routes there difficult. If you want to (rock) climb at that time head down to Finale or Provence or Spain.
7:18:47 PM
On 17/02/2011 davidn wrote:
>On 17/02/2011 Gavo wrote:
>>I was explaining to someone a while back about how with Via Ferrata you
>>can have falls which are >2.
>>I think I have seen somewhere that the anchor/arrest points can be 4
>>5m apart.
>If you had a 500 metre fall onto a 1 metre rope, is it a fall factor 500?
> Does it generate 500 times the impact force?

The standard FF calculation has a couple of simplifications in it which mean it isnt very accurate for FF > 2 or huuuuuuuge falls.

The first thing it doesnt take into account is aerodynamic drag - ie the air slowing you down as you fall. In normal falls this force is negligible so its ignored; in a 500m fall it would have a significant impact. Once you reach terminal velocity (no idea how long that takes) the aerodynamic drag is approximately equal to 9.8 * your mass (F = MA) - this is because the air resistance completely counteracts gravity once you reach terminal velocity.

Another thing relavent for via ferrata that the standard FF doesnt take into account is friction with the cable. As you fall down the friction of the biner attached to the cable and your lanyard would slow you down somewhat.

Because of these two factors you wouldnt get anywhere near a 500FF in a 500m fall onto a 1m rope. I have no idea by how much less but it would be a significant a hugely rough guess maybe a FF of ~100 - 250
One Day Hero
9:25:19 PM
On 17/02/2011 maxdacat wrote:
> If you want to (rock) climb at that time head down to Finale or Provence
>or Spain.

Not so accurate this year, Max. Very dry winter in europe with temps oscillating between bastard cold and rather pleasant.

A little birdy told me that your mates Clancy and Georgia were climbing in t-shirts at 1000m in france last week ;)

Doli's ferrata's are spectaculicious, south facing ones should be fine in June. Apparently the Frenchy's are getting in on the ferrata idea, but will probably f--- it up as you want crazy Italian dodgyness to get the feel right...........the Swiss would have no idea how to do it properly!
One Day Hero
12:55:15 AM
On 17/02/2011 Olbert wrote:
>Because of these two factors you wouldnt get anywhere near a 500FF in
>a 500m fall onto a 1m rope. I have no idea by how much less but it would
>be a significant a hugely rough guess maybe a FF of ~100 -

Utterly pointless navel-gazing!

Your harness (and body) explode around 25g, rope and slings and biners all explode by 40g. FF of more than about 5 without a cunning energy absorber will surely get you into the range of exploding gear................hence you need not worry about air-drag changing your fall from FF100 to FF50, as the resulting explosion will be much the same either way!

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