/ Cheap lanyards for Via Ferrata
Or does anyone else have some advice for via ferrata-ing on the cheap?
Yes, don't do it.
The forces generated on a fall on via ferrata are an order of magnitude more serious than for a fully equipped climber. By the time you have finished buying the bits to fashion one it would be easier, safer and not much more costly to buy. They tend to be a little cheaper once you are out there.
They are available for hire in Arco.
Make sure you get them via-ferrata sets with energy absorption systems, as fall factor 5-6 falls are possible on steeper sections of VF. Decathalon have a set available for £38.
In the last year, vast numbers of via ferrata lanyards have been recalled due to design and engineering issues. I'm going on a VF holiday in August to the high Dolomites, and have struggled to find insurance (ended up joining the Austrian Alpine Society) because the companies I've used in the past are no longer willing to insure people for VF use.
The forces generated in a VF fall are colossal. VF is not like sport, or even trad climbing, where you can expect to take a big fall from above your gear and just shrug it off. A big fall in VF is a nasty affair, destroys the lanyard, and is quite likely to leave you with injuries or worse.
With that in mind, it's worth asking what you want from a lanyard. More expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's more likely to save your life in a fall; you may be paying for funky bells and whistles such as elasticated slings and suchlike. However, you probably should think about researching which ones were recalled, what they were replaced with, and making sure you get one of the replacement sets.
One thing I've observed is that conventional wisdom is moving away from the "rope friction" type and towards the "tearing stitches" type, as they remove the temptation to keep on using them after they've deployed, and they supposedly deploy in a more reliable and predictable way. My old Singing Rock rope friction set was affected by a recall and was replaced by a webbing type, and I must say it's also a more compact and tidy package too. It also avoids the other issue which annoyed me no-end with the rope friction type: tripping over the dangling loop of rope on uncabled VF sections.
There's no substitute for research here. DO make sure you don't pick up old (often discounted) stock of likely recalled lanyards. Be safe.
Thanks for the tips everyone! I'll have a proper look into it before I decide what to do. I know the forces are enormous, which is why I would be massively reluctant to string one together myself (and yeah, would prefer not to do it at all)!
And don't forget helmets. Those are the most important items of kit.
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