Via Ferrata is the term applied to alpine scrambles using fixed ladders to surmount difficult obstacles and fixed cables for protection.
It is most important that a proper via ferrata clipping system, rather than a sling and a krab, is used to clip in to ladders and cables as, according to DMM, even a 60 cm fall-factor 1 fall on to an open Dyneema® sling can generate enough impact force (16.7 kN) at the anchor to pull a Wallnut 11 wire (12 kN) apart and this could be enough to break a karabiner in certain circumstances. It is also worth noting, that all these sets are considered to have a limited lifespan of around 5 to 10 years though this varies from one manufacturer to another and that they all have weight limits (minimum and maximum and typically between 50kg and 100kg) for the climber using them. Above and below these limits it is suggested that a dynamic rope belay is given as well, and this is particularly sensible in the case of young children - in fact, many modern via ferratas are equipped with "pig's tails", a fixed running belay systems into which a rope joining two climbers can be hooked as you pass.
Following a fatal accident, quite a number of via ferrata sets were recalled by their manufacturers in 2012/13 - please see the UIAA Website for a complete list.
There are quite a number of Via Ferrata Guidebooks. For more information on via ferrata please see our Via Ferrata Advice Page.