Originally Posted by jasoncapecod
i don't quit understand the point in the biner attached to the cable..
Via Ferrata (or Klettersteig in German) is a type of climbing that is quite popular in Europe. There is a cable that's fixed to the rock and the climber wears a regular climbing harness. The harness has two carabiners, each attached to the harness by a special sling that's about 3-4 feet long.
As you climb, you attach the biners to the fixed cable. The cable provides your protection, so you don't have to carry ropes or protection gear. While climbing, you slide the biners along the cable. When you come to one of the anchors for the cable, you unclip one biner and then re-clip it above the anchor. You then unclip the second biner and re-clip above the anchor and continue climbing. There are two biners/slings so that you are always protected by at least one biner, even when you're passing an anchor.
Because of this setup, you can never fall any further than the next anchor below you (plus the length of the sling).
There are some truly spectacular big climbs in Europe that utilize Via Ferrata. We've done a number of them and they are great fun and quite safe. Via's enable you to go light and fast on some amazing terrain.
Here's a friend of mine of on the Ferrata Tisi wall, just below the summit of the Civetta outside Cortina, Italy. The blue helmet at the very bottom of the photo is my wife.
And here's that same summit from the little town of Alleghe:
Does that help?