Review of the demanding trip to the Mangart going up the Ferrata della Vita (literally "Ferrata of Life") and following the long east ridge of the Mangart. A long itinerary with a high gap and many exposed sections on the ridge. Unique views of the Julian Alps. Itinerary starting from the Fusine Lakes, long approach and ascent to Forcella Segherza with the via ferrata. Long ridge itinerary up to Mangart and return to the ring from the Shelter Nogara.
The starting point of the Ferrata della Vita al Mangart itinerary is the large car park near the Fusine Lakes in the province of Udine. To reach the lakes, you must reach Fusine Valromana, inhabited near Tarvisio. You reach Tarvisio with the A23 and the motorway exit of the same name. Once in Fusine Valromana, we will notice on the right the deviation for the Fusine Lakes. Directions for Google Maps available here.
Leave the car in the parking lot (937 m) and continue past the barrier along the dirt road with signs for the Zacchi Hut. Continuing along the dirt road we soon meet a crossroads:
We look up straight to see the Mangart, to its left the ridge that connects it to the Little Mangart and below it further to the left is the Fortezza Saddle, narrow U-shaped carving, where the via ferrata ends. After about 30 minutes from the parking lot, staying on the forest road we meet a second important saddle (1030 m):
After a few minutes the road is reduced to a path and we begin to climb steeply into the woods reaching a crossroads at theOld Alp (ca 1300 m - 1h 15 'from the parking lot) where CAI 517 comes off to the right, CAI 513 on the left continues towards the Zacchi Hut, we follow straight faded red signs and cairns we go up in a stony ground. Pay attention now not to lose the track and gain rapid altitude by entering a magnificent circle of vertical walls. Going up, one wonders where the route will go with the walls looming over our heads. We reach a new crossroads (20 'from the Alpe Vecchia), not marked with a track and red signs that descend to the left to engage downstream on the CAI 513 that rises from the Zacchi Hut. We continue straight uphill on the scree with increasingly small signs. On the left we must find a track that continues towards a gully that leads us to the trees beyond base of the line that descends from Forcella Segherza. We continue on steep and breathless climb on the scree until we reach the perennial snowfield, now definitely reduced, which we cut from right to left. We cover a narrow ledge with a couple of downhill passages on which to climb and then climb up rocks to reach thestart of the Ferrata della Vita placed in a rather narrow chimney (approx. 1750 m - 2h 45 'from the parking lot).
The start is immediately challenging: we are at the base of a gloomy chimney with the cable that rises to the right. The first few meters of the chimney, the crack is too wide to proceed in split and one will be necessary some traction on the cable to gain the central part of the gorge. As you climb the rock is approaching and there are more holds that we can use to go up. Finish the first section and follow aexposed ledge turned to the left which leads us to the base of a second less demanding chimney. We go up this time with less difficulty given the holds and continue along the ledge that cuts the mountain to the left. Visible now on the left in the distance the Zacchi hut and Fusine lakes from which we started about 3h 30 'before.
We begin to climb now a series of rocks and they deposit us on one ledge to the right which cuts parallel to the previous one, some tens of meters below us. We set off again towards the colatoio coming down from the Forcella Segherza. We follow the stretch of path and rocks in this stretch not difficult with the cable that serves mainly as self-insurance without actually being necessary for the climb.
As we move to the right we approach one of the iconic route passages. The ledge is interrupted and, in strong exposure, we meet a rocky edge where initially we climb on a dihedral and then traverse to the right and around the rocky shoulder using some old metal feet frames. We go around the shoulder and we begin to climb vertically in a long exposure a line of ascent immediately meeting a rocky roof and where some brackets come to our aid. We begin to climb now a dihedral where we meet over the metal cable also a large chain and some metal brackets. The brackets initially present on the left side then move to the right side. there gradually shift to the right on strong exposure for a last vertical stroke with brackets. Passed theaerial passing we reach one new narrow ledge to the right. Walking along the ledge does not present problems but the exposure is considerable and it seems to fly over the snowfield crossed in the approach. Finish the ledge with a short vertical jump with very useful brackets and we immediately meet a new ledge to the left.
Finish the ledge and the cable rises vertically bypassing a rocky roof on the left and going up again vertically. Let's go up one metal ladder with which we climb up a rock bulge. We travel a exposed sideways to the left slightly uphill. The cable starts again in vertical for a few meters beyond which the equipment ends momentarily. On our right is clearly visible Small Mangart of Coritenza. Attention in this stretch that is not protected and, like many others, exposed. Care should be taken to follow the path of the unmarked ascent route. To our right the red outline of the Tarvisio Shelter also appears in the distance. We now climb the trail that leads us to the Forcella di Sagherza (CAI signpost) and, keeping to the right, follow the trail until you reach the Tarvisio Shelter (2160 m - 1h 45 'from the start - 4h 30' from the parking lot).
There are mainly 3 return options, all of a certain commitment and difficulty:
Coming back for the Ferrata della Vita is probably the least long and demanding option but also less satisfying. The second option proposed, namely reaching the Ponza Grande, requires a good deal of experience. The itinerary takes place on the ridge with many exposed and unprotected passages. The equipment, where present, is not in good condition and some passages are definitely exposed, in particular the ascent and descent to the Veunza require steady step and absence of vertigo. If you decide to proceed along this route, it may be useful to proceed in preservation for some sections. Once at the Ponza Grande, go down to the Zacchi Hut (about 7h from the Tarvisio Shelter).
The option we present for the return is long and with ridges, but less demanding than the Ponza Grande ridge. In fact, from the Shelter we begin to follow the trail towards the southwest that takes us to the top of the Small Mangart of Coritenza (2333 m) with passages that make us quickly gain altitude. Some vertical passages (for example at the Mala Forca) are aided with ropes in good condition. We continue now along a beautiful stretch of ridge along the Slovenian-Italian border from which it is possible to see the peaks of the Julian Alps in Slovenian territory: lo Javolec and Triglav in particular they stand out on the eastern side of the ridge. Impressive i precipices on the southern slope of the Mangart. There ridge is quite exposed but never too difficult and difficulty in the second part as you go there nears the top of Mangart. Along the ridge we meet some vertical aided passages therefore we recommend keeping the harness also at the end of the via ferrata. We thus reach a saddle (2485 m - 2h 45 'from the end of the ferrata). Possibility to climb to the top of the Mangart on the left.
The fastest descent is taking the right at the saddle and bypassing the north wall of the Mangart via the normal route (short aided section). We reach Mangart saddle (2166 m) and then following the signs you go down on the Italian side for the normal route that leads us to Nogara Shelter (1850 m - 1h 30 'from the junction). From the shelter, follow the 517A trail downhill until it enters the dirt road, which is crossed on the approach. Then return to the car park (1h 15 'from the Shelter Nogara - 5h 30' from the end of the ferrata - about 10h total).
The proposed itinerary is definitely an interesting, varied, challenging, exposed itinerary. It has a mix of features that makes it engaging in all aspects. The ferrata in its interior is an important piece of the trip but the entire route is much more complex in its development. After the long approach and the ascent with the via ferrata to the Tarvisio Shelter, one might consider staying overnight and breaking the trip in two days. Reaching the Mangart along the ridge is advisable only with stable weather given the various passages exposed. Attention along the ridge not to deviate from the Slovenian signs that will make us lose altitude. The long return has as its point of support both a shelter in Slovenian territory under the Mangart (Koca Na Mangartskem) and the Shelter Nogara. Itinerary to be followed with good training. Challenging, exposed and non-trivial via ferrata.
In order to overcome the hard sections of this via ferrata, we reccomend you to read out article "How to temporarily take a pause in a Via Ferrata".
Questa via ferrata fu installata negli anni Venti dai reparti alpini addetti al controllo del confine con l'allora Ex-Jugoslavia. Il nome con cui venne conosciuta allora era “via della Morte” anche a causa, negli anni seguenti alla Seconda Guerra Mondiale, delle morti di profughi che senza adeguata attrezzatura cercavano di varcare il confine in direzione dell'italia. La via fu ristrutturata sia negli anni ’40 che nei primi anni ’80 quando venne cambiato il suo nome in “Via della Vita”. Percorrendo in parte colatoi, sono frequenti le scariche di sassi e spesso necessita di manutenzione ordinaria e straordinaria.
Always starting from the Fusine Lakes you can reach the slopes of Mangart and climb the Italian and Slovenian via ferrata. Moving further west we reach the Jof Fuart and the Jof di Montasio where there are many aided routes. We report the Via Ferrata Amalia at Jof Montasio, the Aided path Leva, the Aided path Ceria Merlone, the Ferrata Anita Goitan and Aided path King of Saxony. Moving further south we meet the Ferrata Grasselli and Julia in the Canin group.