Last mountaineering ratings in the Swiss Alps covered in this article is the via ferrata. Via ferrata means climbing with the helping gear, such as ladders, bolts, and cables fixed to the mountain wall, and it is getting more and more popular on the Swiss Alps. In via ferrata (Klettersteig in German) the climber uses harness with two leashes, with at least one always connected securely to the via ferrata system.

Via ferrata Brunnistockli
Vertical wall made easy, via ferrata at Brunnistöckli, Engelberg

As with all other grading, there are few standards around the world, but in Switzerland SAC grading is used, also called the Hüsler scale (named after Eugen E. Hüsler).

The table below is again translated from SAC material available in German.

RatingRoute/terrainRequirementsExample Routes
K1 (easy) Generally traced climbs, belays comfortable in relation to the terrain. Large, natural footholds, where these are missing are mounted stairs, short ladders and iron stirrups. Somewhat exposed passages have rope or chain belays throughout (also rope handrails). No self-securing is necessary for experienced mountaineers.Alpbachschlucht,
K2 (medium)In some sections you are already in steeper rocky terrain, but the route is extensively secured.Steep or vertical passages are defused by ladders and/or iron clamps. Even in less difficult terrain, wire ropes or chains secure the climber. Self-securing is advisable.Eiger-Rotstock,
K3 (quite difficult)The route runs over longer stretches in steep, also exposed rocky terrain (corresponding to III degree of difficulty), but is rather generously secured.There are no passages where strong arm pull is necessary. Self-securing required.Tälli,
Angelino Monte Generoso
Farinetta 1
K4 (difficult)Steep rocky terrain with vertical sections, there are also small, well-secured overhangs. In many cases the route is considerably exposed, natural footholds and holds are often small. Even on exposed or steep passages there is only a wire rope belay (arm strength required). Artificial holds such as hooks or iron steps only in the most difficult places. An exception are the sport via ferratas “à la française”, which are usually secured in a much more elaborate way, but but also have maximum exposed passages.Allmenalp,
Tour d’Aï,
Echelles de la Mort
Farinetta 2
K5 (very difficult)Via ferratas in the most difficult rocky terrain.They are often long, persistently demanding and therefore also very strenuous. Vertical or pushing passages are sometimes only provided with wire ropes; artificial hold points additionally secure only extreme passages. Routes for experienced climbers who are in good shape.Evolène Abschnitt 3,
Rochers de Naye
K6 (extremely difficult)Via ferrata for the “cracks” with strong upper arms, solid nerves and impeccable condition.Long, sparsely secured passages on the vertical, which require a lot of endurance (arms). For sport via ferrata climbing shoes (friction) can be advantageous, possibly also additional partner belay.Leukerbadner
Piz Trovat 2
Farinetta 3

In addition to difficulty, via ferratas are divided into four categories:
(1) Secured via ferrata: Routes that have belays only on shorter sections and are rather easy
(2) Alpine route: route over ice/glacier and/or unsecured rocky terrain up to difficulty level II
(3) Via ferrata: Climbing route secured throughout with (steel) ropes; difficult sections are secured with with ladders, pins or staples
(4) Sport via ferrata: Like via ferrata, but equipped with special attractions (bridges, rope ladders, tyroliennes).

The international via ferrata ratings can be found from the UIAA website.

Next up: Ski touring grades.