The wonderful Via Ferrata degli Alpini all'Oronaye extends on a route made by the Italian Alpine Korps for military purposes on the border with France. The itinerary is long, develops in high mountain and with few support points, therefore to be covered in stable weather conditions and good training.
The starting point is the hamlet of Viviere in the upper Valle Maira in the province of Cuneo. Once you reach the hamlet of Vivere, continue for a short while along the paved road which becomes at a certain point ferrata until you reach a sign indicating the start of the route of the Ferrata degli Alpini to the Oronaye.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
We continue on the road where we parked we come to a sign indicating the path S9 that will take us to the Enchiausa valley. Continue walking uphill in the valley towards the peak of Monte Oronaye at the end of the valley. Youi continue on the path steeper along the way till you reach a flat section where we take path S30 to the left. Bend to the left towards Oronaye, going up the debris valley, reaching then the Enrico Mario shelter (2650 m), after passing the close Shelter Valmaggia. The Enrico Mario shelter is actually not in great shape due to the humidity inside and it's not reccomended to use for sleeping. However, before reaching the Bivacco Enrico Mario, you find the Valmaggia Shelter of the CAI sezione Dronero which is recent. Close to the Bivacco Enrico Mario there is a sign with the description for the vie ferrata Si costeggia la montagna towards right up debris not always stable leading us to the via ferrata beginning following yellow signs along the path (3h from the parking).
The Ferrata goes back up a height difference of 350 m and starts with a stretch of some aided rocks, ledges, gullies, short walls and rocky jumps of moderate difficulty that in about 30 minutes takes us to the first emergency shelter (the socalled "Eagle's Nest"). In this section the cable is momentarily interrupted and in the case of inexperienced hikers a piece of rope could be useful to proceed roped with a partner eventually using also some nails available. This first section is composed of rocks, diagonal slabs and some vertical ridges.
The second section of the via ferrata increases the verticality and the exposure although it does not follow the direct line of ascent but it follows a development horizontal and then diagonal by using the weak features of the rock to reach the second emergency shelter near the Forcella Dronero (3000 m) with the peculiarity of being obtained inside the rock. Along this stretch the bottom is not very stable in different sections, be careful not to move debris for those below.
Next to the shelter begins a incredible ladder of about 150 pegs which leads us to the end of the via ferrata going up the last 50 meters after a short stretch at the end of the ladder. You then reach the top of the Dronero (1h 30' from the start - 4h 30' total) with a view that sweeps over beautiful stretches of the Maritime Alps on both sides of the ridge. Ahead os us it is visible the nea cross of the Monte Oronaye.
The descent takes place along the same ascent route. Although it is not particularly difficult from a technical point of view, the fatigue accumulated during the itinerary and the fact of being in a high mountain environment with possible impacts from the weather change should be considered. The first step is the stairway, then the two sections of the ferrata up to the Enrico Mario shelter (1h 30' from the end of the ferrata - 5h total) and then return to the car park (2h 15' from the Enrico Mario shelter - 7h 15' total without excessive stops).
Along the way you can see the old equipment the old equipment dating back to the 1930s. The current equipment is in good condition. The only stretch in which the equipment is to be evaluated well is the ladder where the pegs tend to be rather close to the rock and therefore attention is needed to avoid losing footing, especially during the descent.
The aiding equipment has been recently renewed and the original wire runs side by side to the new one in many sections. Some parts of the climb are not protected however it is possible to use nails to secure the partner. It could be useful in case of rain.
The Ferrata degli Alpini at Oronaye is a climb in a high mountain environment, astonishing as a mountain environment in which the hiker enjoys a wonderful view from the top. The ascent of the via ferrata leads to the Dronero, or the precast of the Oronaye. Reaching the Oronaye currently requires a mountaineering route with free IV sections. Given the length of the route it is difficult to link this route with another via ferrata on the same day. However, in the adjacent days the not distant could be evaluated Via Ferrata Camoglieres or the Via Ferrata Chiaronto.
Among the others via ferrate in the province of Cuneo which we suggest to deepen there are also the Via Ferrata Funs, the Ferrata Bec Valletta and the Via Ferrata Rocca dei Corvi. Wanting to move to the south instead you can reach the beautiful Via Ferrata of the Artists in the province of Savona.