The world mountaineering body today warned owners of all via ferrata sets to check whether their equipment is safe.
The Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme, the international mountaineering and climbing federation, is also going to look at reviewing its safety standard for the lanyards, used on vie ferrate.
The warning follows a fatal accident on 5 August when a climber using a set fell several metres on a route in the Walchsee area of the Austrian Tirol.
Both lanyards on the energy-absorbing devices broke, and the climber died in the subsequent fall.
The via ferrata set in question met current UIAA safety standards. The devices are used to provide protection on the routes, which typically use fixed ladders, ropes and bridges on mountains mainly in continental Europe, though famously the late Mark Weir set up the first UK via ferrata at Honister in the Lake District.
The sets consist of two lanyards with karabiners which are clipped into the fixed protection on the mountains.
A UIAA spokesperson said: “The manufacturer of the set carried out an investigation after the accident. The probe found that that the lanyard’s strength was dramatically affected after intensive use not only because of its specific construction but also due to the material used.
“A meeting of the safety commission took place on 6 September in Bern, Switzerland, to review the accident because the via ferrata unit involved met safety standards as set out by the UIAA safety commission.
“The meeting was attended by national delegates, representatives of 16 manufacturers and UIAA laboratories in France and the Czech Republic.”
The UIAA recommendation is that users are strongly advised to visit the website of the manufacturer to check if their via ferrata set is safe to use.
A decision was also made to review UIAA 128, the safety standard used to test via ferrata sets. The last review of this standard took place in 2008 when a wet test was added.
The goal of the review is to update the existing standard for via ferrata sets that will include fatigue testing, the spokesperson said.
DMM, Edelrid, Petzl, Skylotec, AustriAlpin, Mammut, Salewa, Climbing Technology, Grivel, Beal, Ocun, Lanex, Singing Rock, Camp Cassin and Simond all attended the meeting.
German brand Edelrid last month issued a product recall for seven of its models of via ferrata sets following the fatal incident and said anyone with the affected gear should stop using them immediately.
Edelrid said: “It has been found that, in certain cases the webbing of the elasticated webbing branches, after increased use, may no longer meet the relevant safety standards.
“Thus the protective requirements of a via ferrata set are no longer met or can only be met in part, which in the case of a fall could result in serious injury or death.”