Mountaineering gear manufacturer Edelrid has redesigned its via ferrata sets after a voluntary recall on the equipment in August.
The new sets conform to a recently introduced higher standard set by the German Alpine Club, DAV.
The move follows the death on 5 August when a climber using a set fell several metres on a route in the Walchsee area of the Austrian Tirol.
The Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme, the international mountaineering and climbing federation, last month called on all via ferrata set owners to check their equipment was safe.
German firm Edelrid today said it was currently in the processing of replacing the elasticated webbing lanyards on all recalled sets.
These lanyards now meet and exceed the testing requirements set forward by TÜV Süd, an accredited test laboratory. For ease of identification all new lanyards are easily identifiable by their black design with green and blue stripes, Edelrid said.
The company said in a statement: “Following the voluntary recall of numerous via ferrata sets and extensive material testing, Edelrid has now developed a solution, which has been applied to the elasticated webbing arms of all recalled sets.
“The via ferrata boom in recent years has changed the demands placed on personal protective equipment. The DAV safety commission has therefore developed a new test procedure, which Edelrid has responded to.
“Vie ferrate have become increasingly popular, more and more people are exploring these alpine scrambles with fixed ladders and cables – often while on holiday and using a hired via ferrata set.
“A hired via ferrata set is generally subjected to much greater use than one that is privately owned. In response to this changing usage, in August 2012 the DAV and the accredited test laboratory TÜV Süd developed a new test procedure for the long-term use of elasticated webbing arms (lanyards).”
The company said it has tested different materials that could be used for the elasticated webbing arms according to the new test procedure. “Our solution uses a different material and finishing process,” Edelrid said.
“The new Edelrid via ferrata webbing arms pass the DAV safety commission test. In addition, our new elasticated webbing material demonstrates high safety margins, including after intensive use, and far exceed the requirements of the new test.
“Since 3 September, all recalled sets received have been reworked by Edelrid using the new webbing and returned to customers. The new elasticated webbing arms have a different colour design that is easy to recognise – black webbing with a green stripe in the middle of one and a blue stripe in the middle of the other side.”
The new test involves the elasticated webbing arms being stretched on a test rig 50,000 times. It then has to pass a dynamic test on a tensile test machine.
Edelrid said a typical via ferrata user might subject his or her set to about 1,500 loads each year.
Rented sets are likely to be subject to higher use and it recommends replacing them at least every two years, equating to 45,000 load cycles.
The company said: “Providing that it is properly stored and serviced, a via ferrata set may have a service life of up to a maximum 50,000 cycles. However, in the event of improper use and/or improper storage its service life may be considerably reduced.
“The via ferrata equipment rental sector is not regulated. Via ferrata equipment is available for hire from restaurants, mountain railways and fashion retailers among others.
“However, via ferrata sets are personal protective equipment. This type of equipment should be maintained correctly and subject to regular inspection. Its functioning should be inspected and documented on a daily basis by appropriately trained personnel.”
It added: “The recall of seven of our via ferrata sets remains imperative to ensure the safety of our customers. Edelrid does not differentiate between via ferrata sets for private use and via ferrata sets for rental use. We have been returning the reworked via ferrata sets since 3 September.”
Any UK outdoor enthusiasts who believe they may have an Edelrid via ferrata set affected by the recall are asked to visit the Edelrid website.