Maybe you know them already: Gspensti and Spuki, the two ghosts, that are up to mischief on the Natural Adventure World Ghosts’ Mountain in St. Johann-Alpendorf. Now there’s a very special adventure for young climbers over 8 years old. Easily accessible on the Alpendorf cable car, accompanied by an adult you can view the world from above on Drachi’s via ferrata for kids.
Together with my two nieces, Marlene and Paulina plus my nephew Julian, I tested the via ferrata trail for you. First things first, the trail along the 40-metre high Drachenwand is not suitable for unexperienced via ferrata beginners. At least an accompanying person must have basic knowledge of safety equipment and the children should also have a little alpine experience in order to master the exposed climbing passages.
After the journey up on the Alpendorf cable car, you travel on the Ghost Train to the Buchauhütte, from here it’s just another 5 minutes’ walk along the Drachenweg (Dragon Path) to the new via ferrata for children and youths. Before we get started, we check our equipment once again. Climbing harnesses, rockfall helmets and via ferrata sets are compulsory on any via ferrata and can be rented from the sports shop at the valley station of the Alpendorf cable car. You can wear light alpine footwear on the climbing trail, which should be non-slip, so as to provide the necessary grip for the tips of your feet.
A steel cable is affixed along the whole length of the via ferrata, that is used for fixing carabiners. It’s important that when climbing, both carabiners are attached to the steel cable, whilst anchoring between the safety points at least one carabiner should remain attached to the steel cable.
Already after the first traverse we reach the first steep vertical passage. In the climbing topo map this stage is categorised as difficulty level B (medium difficulty), whereby we have to hang on properly to master the passage. A mounted iron rung simplifies the ascent somewhat, but it doesn’t get any easier. Heading up to the Wildererschlucht (Hunters‘ Gorge), in my opinion one of the most spectacular parts of the climbing trail, the rock face beneath your feet drops away 40 metres. Straight after that there’s another highlight, the gorge with a rope suspension bridge. Here we balance along a narrow steel cable over to the other side of the gorge. Afterwards, we head along a gently sloping traverse to two ladders, which leads us finally back to safe ground again.
Climbing is quite rightly one of the trendiest sports going. Via ferratas are used by sports enthusiasts, who set great store by safety and appreciate the combination of activity and pleasure amid nature. The via ferrata for kids and youths is the optimal challenge for sporty children, who already have a little alpine experience and whose accompanying adults are au fait with the safety equipment.
All those who have no experience of via ferrata are recommended to take part in an introductory course with experts. A good opportunity for this is the JO Xund&Fit programme organised by the Tourist Office in St. Johann with mountain guide Sepp Schiefer. The experienced alpine expert provides useful tips for safe climbing on via ferrata and choosing the right equipment every Thursday. This session can be booked via the Tourist Office website: josalzburg.com.
Photo credits: Snow Space Salzburg – Christoph Huber