Europe Jan 23 - advice please.


Active member
Do those that ski off piste in Europe take their own avi safety gear? I will be skiing with an instructor or guide most of the time if skiing off the marked trails. I believe the instructors and guides supply shovel, probe and transceiver. I'll ski in the low angle areas to the side of the pistes when I'm not with a guide (especially on snow days).
No point buying gear?
A few days ago, the NY Times posted an article about five that have been built in the U.S. I pasted the initial part below.

Coming Soon to an American Cliff Near You: ‘Via Ferrata’ Routes​

I stood on a rock ledge, terra firma far below, and took in the panorama to my left. Against the horizon sat Fairchild Mountain — reaching just above 13,500 feet — and other peaks in the Mummy Range, a series of lofty summits in the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. In the foreground was a bright blue sliver of Mary’s Lake. In front of me, a sheer wall of stippled gneiss. It was the kind of vista that Tommy Caldwell, a renowned professional rock climber who lives in nearby Estes Park, Colo., likely experiences on a regular basis.

But unlike Tommy Caldwell, or even experienced amateur climbers, I did not need to have precise technique nor exceptional strength nor a rack full of climbing gear to reach my elevated perch. That’s because I was on the Cloud Ladder via ferrata, which consists of permanent rebar rungs bolted into the rock, bordered by a continuous series of fixed aircraft-grade steel cables to which I remained attached. Those rungs made it relatively easy — though still thrilling — to scale the rock face.

Long popular in Europe, particularly in the Alps, via ferrata routes — “via ferrata” is Italian for “iron way” — are becoming more popular in the United States, with new routes being installed on peaks, in gorges and even at high-end outdoors-oriented resorts. The system originated in Italy as a way to move soldiers through the mountains during World War I and was later adopted by intrepid hikers for ascending steeper terrain.

“I wanted people to experience a part of the mountains that you wouldn’t be able to unless you were a climber,” said Harry Kent, the founder and director of Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park, which operates the Cloud Ladder, open since July 2021, on private property a few miles south of the town. (The site is open year round, weather permitting, for guests 12 and older; guided tours cost from $174 to $330 per person, depending on the number of climbers.) Through his other business, Via Ferrata Works, Mr. Kent and his team are also building the country’s first urban via ferrata at Quarry Trails Metro Park in Columbus, Ohio, in an abandoned limestone quarry. The route, on a 150-foot-high cliff face, is expected to open this fall. Access will be free.

The high-alpine Cloud Ladder has a different type of superlative: With some 600 feet of sustained upward climbing for most of its length, it’s billed as the steepest via ferrata in the United States. If I’d been a first-timer, I would have opted for the adjacent and easier Peregrine Arete. But having previously ascended other via ferratas, I was game for a challenge — which I found on the second of two heart-pumping suspension bridges, where I hovered on a tightrope-style cable that spanned 45 feet across a 200-foot chasm. I won’t pretend that I didn’t think twice before heading across it, even though I was secured to two other cables at shoulder height.

As on all via ferratas, in addition to a helmet, I wore a waist harness with a bungee-style lanyard holding two large carabiners (known as lobster claws) and an energy-absorbing device that would lessen the impact in the unlikely event that I fell. (I didn’t.) As for the carabiners, you clip them onto the cables and leave them attached, sliding them along as you climb, except when you arrive at one of the many anchor bolts along the route. There, you unclip one carabiner, clip it in again after the anchor, and then unclip and clip the second one. “Never double unclip,” my guide, Nick Golden, had cautioned.

Though climbing a via ferrata may look like a daredevil outing, it’s more attainable than you might think. The challenges tilt toward psychological rather than physical. “We regularly see people getting past self-imposed boundaries,” said Sean Kristl, the general manager of the guide service Alpenglow Expeditions, which provides via ferrata tours in Olympic Valley, Calif.

Last summer I brought a friend, Lauren Stanley, 56, an architect from Austin, Texas, to climb the via ferrata in Taos, N.M., with me. Afterward, she told me she was reassured by the knowledge that carabiners and cables were always close at hand. “I felt like a lizard crawling over beautiful rock faces, with just enough adrenaline to keep me sharp and aware,” she said.
“Once people get on one via ferrata, they start looking up where others are because it is so accessible and fun,” said Gannon Nawojczyk, the manager of Southeast Mountain Guides, which operates a route in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. Visitors vary in fitness level, age and experience. “People are starting to realize that this is for anybody, so our clientele is becoming more mixed,” he added. The company experienced a 190 percent surge in via ferrata guests between 2018 and 2021, in spite of closing for two months in 2020, according to Mr. Nawojczyk.

Not surprisingly, there’s an art to designing a good via ferrata, and that includes incorporating natural rock along with the artificial aids. “Our crew is mostly made up of mountain guides, so we have a good sense of what guests can tolerate in terms of exposure and steepness,” said Mike Friedman, the managing partner of Utah-based Adventure Partners, which has designed via ferratas at ski areas like Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, as well as at the Amangiri resort in Utah and Arizona’s Castle Hot Springs. Aerial bridges and ladders within routes are particularly popular, Mr. Friedman said.

Via ferratas that are open to the public exist in at least 18 locations across the country.
My kids did this last year at jackson
They were underwhelmed.