The Ferrata of the Centenary CAO Como at Monte Grona is a difficult via ferrata, exposed to travel if in good physical condition and with good experience of via ferrata. The itinerary presents from its excellent rock, with different natural carvings and sockets that largely make the climb climbable. Strong exposure along almost all the way.
The starting point of the itinerary is Monti di Breglia in the province of Como. You reach the isolated village, arriving first at Breglia then turning left uphill before entering the village uphill (brown sign shortly after the ramp). Along the road (first paved but bumpy, then no longer paved, then paved again) we will reach a bend to the right where the possible parking on a large open space to the left is indicated by a P. Park the car.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
From the hairpin bend there is a dirt climb with directions to Monte Grona and Rifugio Menaggio. Go up a few meters then follow the signs for the path to the Menaggio Hut. Choosing the high path (right) it shortens slightly but is more panoramic and more tiring (45 'for the hut). The lower path (left) is less strenuous and a little longer (1h for the hut). However, we recommend the one on the right that, without too much difficulty, rises towards the hut. We meet a second saddle along the slope where we will keep the left (signs present) towards the hut.
From the hut, continue along the path with signs that mark the way. Continue south-west until you reach the white sign indicating the start of the Monte Grona via ferrata (approx. 1h 15 'from the parking lot).
The ferrata extends along a rocky ridge with some towers (teeth) that must be ascended. As with many Lombard via ferratas, we will support both a rope and a chain, which (unfortunately) sometimes cross and require changes of karabiners even in the absence of nails.
The first tower immediately goes up very steep diagonally to the left with good rock and rich in fractures and protrusions so as to be able to provide sockets and handholds. Attention to a single passage in very smooth traverse where it is necessary to use the chain given the scarcity of evident supports. The ascent line is vertical initially towards the left. You immediately gain a lot of exposure (which will accompany us all along the way). The climb is steep and you regularly turn left or right to climb some challenging rocky hills. A horizontal traverse is then reached to the left and a difficult vertical wall is faced that is poorer in grip than the previous one. You reach a rocky chimney at first sight uninviting in which chain and cable follow two different directions: the cable holds the right side, the chain the left side. The transition is not trivial and it is worthwhile to study the passages well, considering the brackets on the left side, very useful for the feet. After the demanding chimney, chain and rope come together and climb a short wall, going around the top to the left.
Then, after a short horizontal section, you come to a corner that you will climb on its left side for a few meters. We come to a traverse ridge airy that we will travel to the left bringing back under us another beautiful vertical slab to climb up again in climbing. We will continue to go uphill to the left, we will follow a difficult horizontal traverse, then more and more diagonal, going around an edge after which we will go up a wall a little more supported and climbing. We conclude with a piece down this stretch the first tower and we will notice near the second tower the sign of the first way out.
The second tower - which is less long and demanding than the first - appears immediately with a difficult passage. You have to go up a steep overhang in a rocky carving. A bracket on the left can be very useful in the progression. Crossing this difficult point, go up a few more meters, cross to the left going up a series of supported rocks. We will thus reach the third and more difficult tower.
The third tower is smoother than the previous ones and the first meters are particularly physical. The holds are much smaller and in this section the use of the chain is more necessary than the previous ones. Cross to the left, even with the help of some brackets, and then reach an exposed and exciting passage. In a rocky crevice you must proceed in split to reach the other side of the rock in strong exposure. The transition is not difficult but exposure and adrenaline are present. Once past this stretch, climb another 4-5 meters challenging then cross to the right in the direction of a sharper edge that we will have to go up again always in strong exposure. After this the third tower ends and we are about to reach the fourth and last, where before starting we will meet a last escape route.
The fourth tower starts immediately very difficult and, considering that it is at the end, one must still arrive in strength. The initial slab is smooth and more difficult than the slab of the third tower. The slab rises offering few holds and only a couple of terraces in which to catch your breath and strength. Cross to the right and you will arrive near an edge that goes uphill and then a challenging split to go up. You then reach the end of the fourth tower.
Then we reach the last stretch. A short vertical climb on a slab up to a slightly overhanging traverse and then the last slab until reaching a small path aided with the coveted summit cross (2 h 45 'from the start - 4h total).
From the top of Monte Grona we have 2 descent options:
As anticipated above, the via ferrata is very climbing but long and overall tiring so it is important to make proper use of the arms to avoid being in difficulty in the topical moments (III and IV tower).
In some cases the chain and the rope cross or recede making the progression more demanding. The escape routes along the route are psychologically important if you don't think you can complete the itinerary.
To access the narrow road from Braglie, you must pay a 3 euro on-site ticket to a machine.
A via ferrata among the challenging ones of Lake Como that leaves room for another ferrata during the same day. Having said that, not far from the parking lot of this via ferrata, one can reach the Via Ferrata Picasass (south) and the Via Ferrata Biasini or Succetti (to the north). You could even get around the Lake of Como from the north and descend to the short Via Ferrata of the Morcate Gallery. Moving towards the Larian triangle we can take the challenging routes of the Sass Tavaracc, Corno Rat and Canzo Western Horn.
Approach: 1:15 h
Ferrata: 2:45 h
Itinerary: 5:45 h
Ferrata height difference: 385 m
Route difference: 636 m
Max altitude: 1736 m
Length: 8.1 Km