Following the voluntary recall of numerous Via Ferrata sets and extensive material testing, Edelrid has now developed a solution, which has been applied to the elasticated webbing arms of all recalled sets. The Via Ferrata boom in recent years has changed the demands placed on personal protective equipment. The DAV (German Alpine Club) Safety Commission has therefore developed a new test procedure, which Edelrid has responded to.
Via Ferratas have become increasingly popular, more and more people are exploring these alpine scrambles with fixed ladders and cables – often while on holiday and using a hired Via Ferrata set. A hired Via Ferrata set is generally subjected to much greater use than one that is privately owned. In response to this changing usage, in August 2012 the DAV and the accredited test laboratory TÜV Süd GmbH developed a new test procedure for the long-term use of elasticated webbing arms (lanyards).
Edelrid has tested different materials that could be used for the elasticated webbing arms according to this new test procedure. Our solution uses a different material and finishing process. The new Edelrid Via Ferrata webbing arms pass the DAV Safety Commission test. In addition, our new elasticated webbing material demonstrates high safety margins; including after intensive use, and far exceed the requirements of the new test. Since September 03, 2012 all recalled sets received have been reworked by Edelrid using the new webbing and returned to customers. The new elasticated webbing arms have a different colour design that is easy to recognise – black webbing with a green stripe in the middle of one and a blue stripe in the middle of the other side.
Reaching the summit used to be sole objective; today Via Ferratas have become an adrenaline-fuelled sport in their own right. More and more people are exploring Via Ferratas – often on holiday with a hired Via Ferrata set. The Via Ferrata rental business is a relatively new development that creates a new set of challenges for equipment manufacturers – the current industry standard for Via Ferrata sets no longer appears to be sufficient. This is why the DAV and TÜV Süd GmbH developed a new test procedure for the long-term use of elasticated webbing arms (lanyards) in August 2012.
During testing, the elasticated webbing arms are stretched on a test rig 50000 times. Each time the lanyards are tensioned and released this represents one cycle. After it has been subjected to 50000 cycles the Via Ferrata set still has to pass a dynamic test on a tensile test machine. Here are some practical examples to illustrate this:
On average a Via Ferrata is 400 m long. This means that during a Via Ferrata a set is tensioned and released approximately 300 times, i.e. it is subjected to 300 load cycles every time it is used.
A Via Ferrata user climbing five Via Ferratas per year would therefore subject their Via Ferrata set to approximately 1500 load cycles.
A more ambitious Via Ferrata enthusiast climbing 15 Via Ferratas per year would subject their Via Ferrata set to 4500 load cycles.
A rental Via Ferrata set hired out 75 times in one year, would be subjected to approximately 22500 load cycles by the end of the season.
Therefore according to this example, a rental set available for hire should be replaced at least every two years (i.e. after 150 Via Ferratas or 45000 cycles). Providing that it is properly stored and serviced, a Via Ferrata set may have a service life of up to max. 50000 cycles. However, in the event of improper use and/or improper storage its service life may be considerably reduced. The Via Ferrata equipment rental sector is not regulated; mountaineering schools do not have sovereign rights. Via Ferrata equipment is available for hire from restaurants, mountain railways and fashion retailers among others. However, Via Ferrata sets are “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE). This type of equipment should be maintained correctly and subject to regular inspection, i.e. its functioning should be inspected and documented on a daily basis by appropriately trained personnel.
All Edelrid products are developed, manufactured, certified and delivered in compliance with the statutory standards. The recall of seven of our Via Ferrata sets remains imperative to ensure the safety of our customers. Edelrid does not differentiate between Via Ferrata sets for private use and Via Ferrata sets for rental use. We have been returning the reworked Via Ferrata sets since September 03, 2012.
For details of the recall, and returning an affected Edelrid Via Ferrata Set please visit the Edelrid site for more information.