When traversing easy via ferrata passages, I only want to clip on one carabiner from my via ferrata set. What should I do with the other carabiner to prevent my via ferrata set from failing?

The difficulty along a via ferrata generally fluctuates, with most climbs involving several easier passages. Sooner or later, most via ferrata users therefore ask themselves: “If I only want to clip on one carabiner from my via ferrata set when traversing easy via ferrata passages, what should I do with the second load arm?”

The problem: short circuiting a via ferrata set (180° misuse)

With most via ferrata sets, it is a bad idea to temporarily “stow” the second carabiner by clipping it to a load-bearing part of the climbing harness (e.g. a tie-in loop or chest harness eyelet). This would bypass the shock absorber and short circuit the via ferrata set, known as 180° misuse. This is because if you fall while using a via ferrata set, the two load arms between the via ferrata cable and the harness pull taut. The shock absorber is bypassed and can only partially extend. The purpose of the shock absorber is to extend the braking distance so as to limit the forces generated by a fall (see also In depth knowledge about Via Ferrata Sets). If the shock absorber does not extend, the forces generated by a fall can be so great that the risk of them resulting in serious injuries is significantly increased. In some cases, the via ferrata set can even tear.

Several solutions to the problem

The best solution is to always clip both via ferrata carabiners to the cable regardless of the difficulty. If I really only want to clip one carabiner to the cable, then I can clip the other one to the first carabiner or the via ferrata set’s rest loop. This enables the shock absorber to function properly.



Some sets are also structurally designed to prevent 180° misuse. In these, the shock absorber works even if the arms are clipped to load-bearing parts. Anyone who is not entirely sure if their via ferrata set is 180° fail-safe should stow the load arms in such a way that they do not impair the shock absorber’s ability to function. EDELRID via ferrata sets that are 180° fail-safe are indicated on the website by the following icon.