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20th Sep 2023

Tourist dies after falling 300 feet while climbing ladder bridge at popular Instagram spot

Steve Hopkins

The ladder is 130 feet long and connects two parts of a mountain

A British man has died in Austria after plummeting 300 feet from a ladder dubbed the “stairway to heaven”.

The 42-year-old, whom has not been named, was climbing the Dachstein Mountains, part of the Northern Limestone Alps, when he fell off the end of the ladder last Tuesday.

The climb has been referred to as Via-Ferrata, which is Italian for ‘iron way’, and many climbers call it the ‘stairway to heaven’. The spot regularly features in social media posts, but is not for the fait hearted. The climb is rated as a “moderate/difficult climb” and not for those without climbing experience.

The ladder goes 130 feet across, with a 300 foot drop beneath, and connects the Donnerkogel mountain to the Großer – Greater – area of the mountain, which boasts a peak that stands at 6,740 feet tall.

The Brit was reportedly climbing the ladder, run by Inter-sport, alone when the incident happened.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death, but it is being treated as an accident. Third-party negligence has been ruled out.

Rescue teams were unable to save the man after his fall, and his body was later removed from the deep ravine beneath the ladder.

There are popular Via Ferrata in Italy, France, Slovenia, and France, as well as in Austria.

According to MailOnline, a police spokesperson said the death was “clearly an accident.”

On the area’s tourist website, the ladder is described as a “new TOP attraction on the Zwieselalm for climbing enthusiasts”.

“In addition to an adrenaline kick, the climbing tour offers a fantastic view of the Dachstein Glacier, the surrounding mountains and the entire Gosau Valley,” the website also says.

In 2020, extreme athlete Stefanie Millinger took a famous photograph whilst balancing on the ‘ladder’ wearing a ballet outfit. The Dachstein Mountains are just one part of the Northern Limestone Alps, featuring 439 named mountains.

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