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Public-images-osm logo.svg via_ferrata_scale
Hermann von Barth Weg MQ.jpg
rate difficulty of a ferrata's Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: hiking
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
Status: in use

via_ferrata_scale is used to describe the difficulty of a via ferrata, different values can be applied to different sections. It should be used in combination with highway=via_ferrata.

Some mappers use this tag in combination with highway=path. If used in this combination at least sac_scale=* must be used as well, otherwise routers that don't know about via_ferrata_scale could mistake it for an easy footway or even send horses and bicycles there - see troll tag. If you think that you are mapping a very easy ferrata that should be mapped as a path the better alternative might be to use Safety measures on hiking trails - see Tag:highway=via_ferrata#Alternatives and history for details.

Rating via ferrata's difficulty

There is no "world wide scale" for via_ferrata difficulty, The "German" Huesler scale (as taken from Wikipedia 1 ) seems to be the only one with quite objective qualifications. Therefore it is used for OSM with the addition of very little difficulty / French F.

  • You can add a + or a - after the value to indicate that the via ferrata is on bottom or top of the grade.
  • sac_scale=* may be added where advanced hikers might still securely use the via ferrata.
Key Value Element Description Conversion Examples
via_ferrata_scale 0 waynode Subjective Difficulty very little

Way/Surroundings Flat to steep, Exposed sections possible

Securance Steel cables, chains, stemples (metal rungs) and partly short iron ladders. Short and easy.

Exigencies Surefootedness and being free from giddiness recommendable. No problem for unsporty

Equipment Basic Via-Ferrata kit may be recommended but is not used by most people


German: none - very easy

via_ferrata_scale 1 waynode Subjective Difficulty little

Way/Surroundings Flat to steep, usually rocky. Exposed sections possible

Securance Steel cables, chains, stemples (metal rungs) and partly short iron ladders. Most parts are usable without using the artificial securance

Exigencies Surefootedness and being free from giddiness recommendable. Being as sporty as a white collar employee enough (for the ferrata itself, depending on the overall journey it may be different)

Equipment Basic via ferrata kit recommended. Experienced ferrata users are often met without self-securance

French: PD

German: A-K1 - little difficult

via_ferrata_scale 2 waynode Subjective Difficulty litte to slightly difficult, in parts a bit demanding or exhausting

Way/Surroundings steep rocky area, in parts small steps, exposed terrain is common

Securance Steel cables, chains, stemples, Tritttifte??, long ladders (also vertical). Usage bypassing securances possible, but then climbing up to UIAA III / French 3 are to be expected

Exigencies Same as for 1, but better shape and a bit more power and endurance in legs and arms are advantageous

Equipment Via ferrata kit recommended. Usage also possible as rope team

French: AD

German: B-K2 - moderately difficult

via_ferrata_scale 3 waynode Subjective Difficulty largely difficult, exigeant and straining

Way/Surroundings steep to very steep rock faces, mostly only small steps, longer or many exposed sections

Securance Steel cables, stemples, Trittstifte, often longer ladders, even overhanging ladders and stemples to be expected, sometimes in vertical sections only steel cables existing, Usable bypassing securances usually possible, but then climbing up to UIAA IV/ French 4 is the norm

Exigencies Good shape, longer ascents in difficult sections are demanding as ferratas of this difficulty are already among the bigger ferratas (sic! better translation?)

Equipment Via ferrata kit heavily recommended. Unexperienced or children should eventually even be roped in

French: D

German: C-K3 - difficult

via_ferrata_scale 4 waynode Subjective Difficulty very difficult, very demanding and very straining

Way/Surroundings vertical, often overhanging areas, largely very exposed

Securance Steel cables, stemples, Trittstifte (often spaced with large distance), in exposed section often no more than a steel cable

Exigencies Same as for 3, but general good body shape needed. Good power in hands and arms as longer vertical to overhanging sections are possible. Also small climbing sections up to difficulty UIAA II / French 2 may need to be cleared.

Equipment Via ferrata kit obligatory, even very experienced via ferrata users will be met in a rope team. Not recommended for children or inexperienced

French: TD

German: D-K4 - very difficult

via_ferrata_scale 5 waynode Subjective Difficulty Extremely difficulty because very straining and exceedingly arduous.

Way/Surroundings Vertical to Overhanging; consistently exposed, very small steps or slab climbing

Securance As for 4 but much more climbing parts

Exigencies Lots of power in hands (fingers), arms and legs. Increased levels of fitness, flexibility needed. Long section may need to be cleared with main weight carried by the arms

Equipment Via ferrata kit obligatory. Rope teams especially for those sections without steel ropes or other securances considerable; not recommendable for beginners or children

French: ED

German: E-K5 - extreme difficulty

via_ferrata_scale 6 waynode Subjective Difficulty More than extremely difficulty because very straining and exceedingly arduos and very good climbings skills are needed.

Way/Surroundings Largely Overhanging; exposed, very small steps or slab climbing

Securance As for 5 combined with climbing

Exigencies Like 5, but good climbing technique obligatory

Equipment Via ferrata kit obligatory. Top rope recommended. Only for people that feel safe and have experience using scale 5 ferratas. Note currently the only known ferrata of this difficulty in the European Alps is found on the Buergeralm Klettersteig (Austria) with "Arena Variante" 1

French: ABO

German: F-K6 more than extreme difficulty

See also