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Feelings of happiness in the Hausbachfall via ferrata
© Eisele-Hein

Via ferrata at the Hausbach waterfall

date: 30.03.2021
from: Norbert Eisele-Hein

The via ferrata in Reit im Winkl was the first via ferrata in the Chiemgau region, and the first one with a trusted German "TÜV" certificate. It forms a congenial, logical addition to the area at the Hausbach waterfall close to the town center. For 100 years there has been a steep hiking trail to the left of the waterfall. From this path you have a magnificent view of the via ferrata and everyone who seems to dance up the steep walls along the steel cable.

 

Content of our article

Reit im Winkl is known to winter sports enthusiasts as an officially certified snow hole. In summer, premium hiking trails lure you onto the panorama routes of the surrounding Chiemgau Alps. With the Hausbachfall via ferrata, Reit im Winkl is now also a fine address for via ferrata walkers.

"Oops, even the entry demands a courageous reaching."

The steel cable leads steeply up the bulbous rock. The steps must be chosen carefully. An exposed, almost overhanging ladder helps to overcome the steep step right next to a cave.

The Hausbachfall via ferrata is not shy. Announces immediately what's going on. Biceps and calves are activated immediately. Substance and surefootedness retrieved. That's just the way it needs to be: A route that starts harmlessly and only becomes really demanding when stamina and strength are already cracked could lead beginners in particular to overestimate themselves.

The first via ferrata in Germany with a seal of approval

The via ferrata on the outskirts of Reit im Winkl was certified by the rating organisation "TÜV Süd" in 2012. It is the first via ferrata in Germany with a seal of approval.

The via ferrata plays with open cards right from the start. One hour ascent time, 170 vertical meters, difficulty C-D, a perfect route sketch - the overview board just before the start provides all the important figures.

These bare facts are refined by a wonderfully airy route. It leads directly on a massive rock wall through a magical waterfall gorge. The rock structure is congenially taken into account. A real via ferrata delicacy.

Passing wooden plansks at Hausbachfall via ferrata
© Eisele-Hein

The fact is - more and more people are finding via ferratas really strong.

With the Hausbachfall via ferrata, Reit im Winkl has a highlight in its programme, just at the right time. Because via ferrata climbing is booming. More and more hikers who have hitherto been “only hikers” are drawn to the rock. Anyone who already has proper hiking equipment only needs a seat belt, the via ferrata set with the two carabiner arms, gloves and helmet - and you're ready to go.

The costs for the new entry are manageable. The equipment can be rented for testing as part of a guided tour. Thanks to ropes, ladders, brackets, steps and clamps made of hard steel, the steepest of walls are possible. A territory can be mastered that was otherwise only reserved for well-trained, technically adept and highly equipped climbers.

Via ferratas bring the airy experience of steep rock faces within the reach of a much larger target group - provided that they are reasonably fit and free from giddiness. Via ferratas let adrenaline and happiness hormones rejoice. And that with a manageable risk.

»Steel cables, rope bridges, floating beams - the Hausbachfall via ferrata provides a veritable adrenaline rush.«

Norbert Eisele-Hein

Tour report

But back to the Hausbachfall via ferrata. Three narrow wooden beams hanging in the wall relieve the muscles and encourage balance. The valley view into the washed-out gullies of the waterfall makes for slightly curled hair on the neck. Steel cables lead directly into the deep blue of the sky. A rope bridge over a tributary of the Hausbach calls for a shaky balancing act.

This is followed by a long, wonderfully exposed traverse directly above the waterfall. The Hausbachfall via ferrata pulls out all the stops. The two carabiners of the via ferrata set slide along the steel cable with a metallic rustle, always giving you confidence. Further sections over tributaries of the Hausbach provide deep views with an adrenaline rush. A long exposed traverse creates a meditative flow. Concentrate, click the carabiners in and out, move forward!

Dance once more over a swaying rope bridge. Balance over a narrow tree. Done! Breathe. The view back into the gorge presents a romantic, kitschy postcard. In front of the summits of the assembled Chiemgau Alps, the exemplary church tower of Reit im Winkl rises into the steel-blue sky. Wow, we give a quick clap. Just nod silently. Unpack the snack. We can feel how our happiness hormones start to dance.

Equipment for the via ferrata

Equipment can be borrowed for via ferrata courses. Those who undertake via ferrata tours more often should invest in their own good equipment.

- Via ferrata set: Today's via ferrata sets with energy absorbers are easy to use. In the worst case, the fall will be slowed down and stopped. The carabiners have a wide opening for easier disengagement and engagement and an automatic locking mechanism.

- Hip belt: A hip belt is normally sufficient. It's important that leg loops are adjustable and that the belt sits comfortably. Children should also wear a chest strap.

- Helmet: Protects in the event of a fall and, above all, in the event of falling rocks (self-release, climbers climbing ahead, animals). Purchase criteria should be weight, ventilation and accuracy of fit. It is better to sort out grandpa and grandma's helmets - the material becomes brittle over the years.

- Gloves: They offer protection from splicing rope ends and sharp edges. They increase grip when climbing and protect the hand from painful blisters on longer tours.

- Shoes: For the climb, lighter mountain boots with solid soles are usually sufficient. Mountain boots that are too rigid puncture the ankles when standing on steep rock. However, the ascent and descent to the wall must also be taken into account. A longer descent over scree or crags again requires well-protected ankles.

Golden rules for climbing a via ferrata

  • Fasten the Y-shaped via ferrata set and the automatically locking carabiners with an anchor stitch in the tie-in loop of the hip belt. Lock the hip belt properly and tighten the leg loops easily.
  • Via ferrata partners check each other that their equipment is correctly fitted.
  • Both carabiners are always attached. Clip one carabiner after the other when changing segments. Never unhook both carabiners at the same time, even if the terrain or the trail seem simple. In the event of a rockfall or carelessness, e.g. when there is a crowd on the path, one carabiner is your life insurance.
  • Via ferratas are not a gymnastics bar. Consciously climb up using the strentgh of your legs. Rim upswings with the upper arms cost too much strength in the long run.
  • Choose your route according to your possibilities and experience. Maps and guide material, as well as information on site, usually provide detailed information about the difficulties and the times to get through.
  • Take enough breaks and drink enough.
  • Attention: Only get into the via ferrata when the weather is safe. Rain increases the difficulty of a via ferrata enormously. With thunderstorms, there is an immediate danger to life in the iron paths.

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In the Hausbachfall via ferrata in Reit im Winkl
© Eisele-Hein

Hausbachfall Via Ferrata

C/ D rated via Ferrata close to the waterfall

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Hausbach waterfall
© Stefanie Dehler

Hausbach Waterfall

Hiking trail, via ferrata, photo spot

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Alphorn players
© Markus Schmuck

Barefoot park

Between via ferrata, water lily pond and Kriegerkapelle chapel

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Klettersteig Steinplatte
© Eisele-Hein

Via ferratas in the vicinity

More via ferratas in Bavaria, Salzburg and Tyrol, from easy to difficult

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Interview with a via ferrata expert

Interview with Dipl. Ing. (FH) Volker Kron, from the TÜV-SÜD sports department, who checked and approved the Hausbachfall via ferrata in 2012:

 

Norbert Eisele-Hein: Mr. Kron, you oversaw the inspection of the Hausbachfall via ferrata in Reit im Winkl. How long does such an inspection take?

During this on-site inspection, the construction documents are checked and the via ferrata is climbed. On this basis, we create a test report and, if necessary, an acceptance certificate. This takes about 1 day.

NEH: What do you put to the test? Are there load tests and technical regulations ...

Here we are currently working with other associations and the Alpine associations as a basis (the standards committee is called CEN TC 136 WG5 PG1). And of course there are already a lot of specifications. The diameter for safety ropes, which are also used for locomotion, must be between 12 and 16 mm. The vertical distance between 2 anchor points of the safety rope fastening must not exceed 3 meters. The first anchor point after entering must be at a height of between 4.5 m and 5 m. The list is long ... and of course everything has to be securely attached and processed.

NEH: Have the inquiries for an expertise from the TÜV been increasing since the acceptance of the Hausbachfall climb?

Yes indeed. As I have heard, the Hausbachfallsteig is very popular and demand is increasing here too, because it can also be marketed very well for tourists.

NEH: How long did your ascent of the Hausbachfall climb take or how often did you walk it?

It was a one-time inspection that lasted approx. 4 hours, we also check the construction documents in detail beforehand.

NEH: What did you particularly like about it?

Solid attachment points, professional execution, little ecological interference, spectacular scenery due to the beautiful waterfall, a great tree at the end - a wonderful via ferrata.

NEH: How do you see the development of via ferratas in the entire Alpine region?

Many via ferratas are unfortunately becoming more and more difficult and this also increases the risk of falling. In the past, falling was taboo on the via ferrata, but nowadays the approach is sometimes different. This also makes it necessary that the system is 100% reliable.

NEH: Thank you very much for the interview.

Entrance to Reit im Winkl
© Kern

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About the author Norbert Eisele-Hein

Norbert Eisele-Hein is a journalist and photographer. He has photographed many corners of Reit im Winkl: on the via ferrata, on snowshoe hikes into the evening hours and early in the cross-country skiing stadium, when it's freezing cold but the light is best for taking photos.