The Ferrata CAI Mandello at the Sasso dei Carbonari is a beautiful itinerary that goes back up to the Northern Grigna summit. The path is long, challenging but never of high difficulty. It extends along an area ridge between aided sections and rocky leaps. You can walk in a ring route that takes about 8 hours and requires good physical shape.
The starting point of this long itinerary is the large open space in Cainallo in the municipality of Esino Lario in the province of Lecco. From Varenna go up towards Esino Lario and follow the signs for Cainallo. Follow the whole road, sometimes narrow, until you reach a large open space from which various paths start in the Grigna area.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
This long itinerary starts from the parking lot and sees the Rifugio Bietti Bietti Hut (1719 m) as the first destination. Climb along path 24 to the Bocchetta di PradaBocchetta di Prada, take the left, and following a path between hairpin bends, ups and downs, continue to the hut (1h 30 'from the parking lot). From the hut we will head east towards the Canalone di Releccio and then the Canalone della Neve to a saddle in which we will keep the right (sign for the ferrata). You reach it via a slightly crumbling path to the Sasso dei Carbonari. Go around it to the right to reach the gully at the top of which you are at the start of the via ferrata. Follow the path uphill before and in short descent (chains) until you reach the notch where there is the via ferrata (1h from the hut - 2h 30 'total).
The beginning of the via ferrata is along a wall of about 30 meters in which we find a metal ladder . We go up again with the help of the chain and some metal brackets. In the final stretch of the wall we go up a rocky carving and finish what is the most difficult part of the route. Now we go back up between earthy steps and mountain pines, gaining altitude. Climb up a grassy slope gradually reaching the ridge. The ridge gradually becomes narrower and more rocky, yet with a clear trace. We reach then a wall of about 15 meters to be climbed with the help of the chain (a little loose, however). Now it is definitely on the ridge alternating ups and downs aided sometimes and others not. The sight in this section is gorgeous however requires a firm foot and ability to climb along exposed sections. Then we reach the last wall with which the route will then end. This is about 40 meters with some brackets that can also be climbed with the help of the chain. At the top we are at the end of the via ferrata along the south ridge of the Northern Grigna (Grignone).
Continuing along the ridge we will reach the intersection with the Via del Caminetto (which goes back to our left) and we will continue straight on until we reach the Bocchetta del Releccio. We are now on the normal route leading to the Aided path of Val Cassina. We pass by the Rifugio Brioschi and soon we are to summit (2h 15 'from the start - 4h 45' total).
To complete a circular itinerary from the summit descend towards the hut and continue towards the North-West ridge going down some slabs aided in some places. We continue along the descent (if we travel at the beginning of the season it is possible to find snow) until we reach a saddle that on the left would lead us to the Bocchetta dei Guzzi. We ignore this deviation keeping to the right until we reach a slightly more difficult descent with a chain. Continuing on the path we will find an indication for the Bogani Hut. Reached the hut we take the path towards south-west up to a saddle marked for Cainallo. Take the path, sometimes a little steep and exposed, which takes you back to the path you took on the outward journey. From here back to Cainallo (2h 45 'from the top - 7h 30' total).
The Ferrata of the CAI Mandello at the Sasso dei Carbonari is presented here in a long loop itinerary that reaches the summit of the Northern Grigna. The path is beautiful, panoramic, it climbs an aerial ridge, impervious but never difficult. It is a very satisfying itinerary that covers a significant gap and is strongly discouraged with bad weather or fog.
The ferrata was opened in 1971 and, as happens in many other aided routes in the Lecco area - it exploits a solid chain. This is in many places loose with nailing far enough away therefore absolutely to avoid any fall.
This is a long itinerary that hardly leaves the possibility of combining with other itinerary on the same day. Obviously the theme is quite different if you decide to stay overnight in one of the shelters of the Grigne massif. In this case you could opt to go up the Aided path Cecilia or the Aided path Direttissima to the Southern Grigna as well as the Aided path Foppe.
An interesting opportunity is to climb this via ferrata with an itinerary that starts from Mandello going up the Aided path of the Val Cassina. In this case the complete itinerary is further extended.