Proposed features/Via ferrata simplified
|Via Ferrata difficulty classification and features on ways and relations|
|Definition:||A mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges.|
|Rendered as:||symbol for overlay:|
The 3 main goals of this proposal are:
- the removal of the special tag highway=via_ferrata,
- encouraging tagging of via ferratas as routes and
- general improvement of the data about via ferratas in OSM via new keys (see below).
In this proposal highway=path is interpreted broadly as: a path along which a human with some degree of preparation can travel. The whole problem of rendering or not, people ending up on difficult climbing paths without proper skills or preparation is avoided and left to the renderer (and user). In the case of OSM Carto the smart thing may be to not render paths that has via_ferrata_scale=* and/or sac_scale=* on it or render them with a danger symbol or something like that.
In this proposal route=hiking is defined broadly as in Tag:route=hiking: "Hiking routes are named or numbered or otherwise signed routes. A route is a customary or regular line of travel, often pre-determined and publicised. It consist of paths taken repeatedly by various people." -> this includes climbing routes of various difficulty
- Ways: highway=path + optional via_ferrata_scale=0-6 (+ optional sac_scale=*)
- Relations: type=route, route=hiking, via_ferrata=yes + optional operator=* and optional name=*
Tagging a relation as a via ferrata allows more flexible and precise mapping in cases where sections of the ferrata are stairs, ladders, walkable paths or climbing routes and when they have operators, fees, names, websites, seasonal access, operator, minimum age, minimum weight, maximum weight and more.
See the full definition on wikipedia 
A via ferrata is a route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges in order to increase ease and security for climbers. Some via ferrata require equipment for safety reasons: climbing harness, shock absorber and two short lengths of rope, but do not require a long rope as for climbing.
Via ferrata tagging on ways
Via ferrata tagging on relations
Create a relation of type=route, route=hiking, via_ferrata=yes and add all ways belonging to the via ferrata to it. The ways can be of different types such as highway=path, steps or other as appropriate. Add difficulty rating to the segments.
The relation can also have name, description and other common tags as appropriate. A follow up proposal could propose tags for which equipment might be wise to bring along.
The following tags can be added to further detail the route:
|colour=*||Colour of the route|
|fee=yes/no||Some route operators charge fees.|
|height=*||Height of the route from bottom to top if applicable.|
See  for an example of a route that is managed, has a fee, restricts based on age and weight, etc.
Some ferratas are seasonally closed due to a variety of restrictions (wildlife, snow/ice, etc.). These restrictions are typically posted on physical signs in the vicinity of the respective ferratas.
Rating via ferrata's difficulty
There is no "world wide scale" for via_ferrata diffculty, 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.
|via_ferrata_scale||0||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||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
German: A-K1 - little difficult
|via_ferrata_scale||2||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
German: B-K2 - moderately difficult
|via_ferrata_scale||3||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
German: C-K3 - difficult
|via_ferrata_scale||4||Subjective Difficulty very difficult, very demanding and very straining
Way/Surroundingsvertical, 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
German: D-K4 - very difficult
|via_ferrata_scale||5||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
German: E-K5 - extreme difficulty
|via_ferrata_scale||6||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
German: F-K6 more than extreme difficulty
- Note: 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.
- Note: I took out the two French beginner sections as the German scale does not make a differentiation. I propose to enter it as 0 - very easy with a classification like "Basically demanding_mountain_hiking but in exposed sections. For frightened or inexperienced people steel cables or short ladders or a few stemples might be part of the way. Is in general not considered as a via ferrata but a normal way featuring via ferrata objects. Via Ferrata kit in general not used and only insecure people use the eventual steel cables. --Extremecarver 18:29, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
Details along the way
Those tags have to be added to the main one if used (i.e not alone) some are already approved so they are part of this proposal as an extension use
|bridge||yes||An unspecified bridge type along the via ferrata route|
|bridge:structure||simple-suspension||"Tibetan" or other very simple hanging/swinging bridges including 2 or more rope bridges see bridge:structure=simple-suspension for more details|
|cable_number||2 or more||For cable bridges the total number of cables, in addition to bridge=yes and bridge:structure=simple-suspension||(here a 3 cable bridge)|
|aerialway||zip_line||A zip line along the via ferrata route see Proposed feature/aerialway=zip line|
|oneway||yes||It the via ferrata is not allowed both ways|
|ladder||length in m||Steel ladder|
|tunnel||yes||A tunnel/cave along the via ferrata route|
|overhang||yes/no/ length in m||Overhanging sections of significant length|
This proposal relates to the following proposals. The two first are used on a handful thousand objects presumably because no approved proposals exist that cover hiking that requires special climbing equipment and specially prepared routes with safety wires aka. via ferratas.
- (draft, disputed) Proposed features/via ferrata
- (draft, never voted on) climbing proposal
- (approved) Safety measures on hiking trails
Alternatives and history
See Tag:highway=via_ferrata#Alternatives and history for overview of history and alternatives.